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Danny Salazar feels ‘terrific,’ is ready for the regular season; Rockies 10, Indians 2

By Ryan Lewis Published: March 22, 2017

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz: Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar was roughed up but with the bigger picture of a regular season in mind, likes his standing heading into the final stretch of spring training.

Salazar allowed seven earned runs on eight hits and one walk in five innings pitched in the Indians’ 10-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. The majority of the damage came in the second inning, which he couldn’t close out and was knocked around for five runs.

“Days like this will happen during spring training. They’ll happen during the season, too,” Salazar said. “I think it’s better if it happens here.”

With it being spring training, of course, the allowed runs were of little consequence. The important test on Wednesday was getting Salazar stretched out. After spending much of last year’s second half and postseason on the disabled list, just feeling healthy again is a major victory.

“I feel terrific on the mound,” Salazar said. “My arm is great. Can’t complain. … I feel ready right now. That’s all that matters.”

Last spring, pitching coach Mickey Callaway talked with Salazar about the responsibilities of becoming a top-tier starter. Sometimes, it’s not about delivering another shutout outing. It’s about limiting the damage in a poor showing and extending as long as he can into a game. This spring has been a better story for Salazar in that regard.

“He’s shown some maturity,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. "A couple years ago, you probably have to go get him the next inning. He’s smart enough and mature enough where he got his work done.”

Thursday’s test

Michael Brantley went 1-for-3 in his second Cactus League this spring, which included a line-drive single to right field. He also flew out to left field twice.

Brantley is slated to play in Thursday’s game, the first time he’ll go back-to-back in big-league camp. That will be the next major test along his road back to the lineup. For now, the Indians are looking to see if anything in his swing looks out of the ordinary.

“He looks healthy to me. He looks good,” Francona said. “It’s just now bouncing back and maintaining as opposed to last year, he got in these games and he felt it and then he started to get al title weaker. He’s not having that.”

Test prep

Brantley, along with Austin Jackson, are both in the mix for the Opening Day roster but both have been more-so dealing with health concerns than logging time in Cactus League play.

Jackson, recovering from left knee surgery, is in camp as a non-roster invitee. He’s logged just 21 at-bats but is hitting .333 with a home run and four doubles. In center field, oddly enough, he’s rarely had the ball hit his way in the games he has played.

“It’s funny, he he hasn’t been tested very much,” Francona said. “Small sample sizes in spring training. He looks fine. There are no red flags.”

Lonnie Chisenhall, Brandon Guyer, Tyler Naquin and Brantley, if healthy, all have spots locked down in the outfield. That leaves Jackson and Abraham Almonte as the leading contenders vying for the fifth spot, though if Brantley is unable to suit up for Opening Day, the Indians could need both to be ready. Yandy Diaz, also a possibility at third base if Jose Ramirez is moved in Jason Kipnis’ absence, could also potentially play into that mix.

The Indians have liked what they’ve seen from Jackson, who was signed to an incentive-laced deal that carried little risk to the club. They just haven’t been able to see enough, yet. Quickly, the Indians are entering a time crunch to make several decisions around the Opening Day roster.

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