Danny Salazar likes to keep it simple when he takes to the mound.
Aeros executives, coaches, players and fans are not complaining.
Salazar, a right-handed pitcher, will be the Opening Day starter at 6:35 tonight when the Aeros host the Binghamton Mets at Canal Park.
He will take with him a 5-0 record in seven career starts in an Aeros uniform.
“I am a pitcher who will stay calm on the mound,” Salazar said. “I like to play for the team. I am not the type of guy who plays for fame.”
The Indians signed Salazar, 23, in 2006, and between 2007 and 2009 he made 46 starts and worked 225 innings for their minor-league affiliates. He underwent right elbow surgery after the 2009 season and that limited him to just 15 starts and 47 innings between 2010 and 2011.
Salazar, 6-foot, 190 pounds, seemed to fully recover in 2012 and pitched in 22 regular season games and 87 ⅔ innings. He started the year with High Class-A Carolina and then finished in Double-A Akron and helped the Aeros reach the Eastern League playoffs with a 4-0 record, a 1.85 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 34 innings.
Former Aeros manager Chris Tremie gave Salazar the ball in the playoffs and he added a fifth win after tossing six innings against Trenton in the Eastern League finals series.
The Aeros ended up winning the Eastern League championship, and Salazar is excited at the prospect of winning another one.
“I want to start out playing hard and playing for the team, like I was doing last year,” Salazar said. “This is my first full year playing here, so I don’t know every team. I didn’t have a chance to face all these teams last year. I have been getting ready during the offseason and spring training. I think something good is coming.”
Salazar smiled when Aeros manager Edwin Rodriguez announced he was his No. 1 starter this season.
“That is going to be fun,” Salazar said. “I guess it will be good and fun. I will maybe be a little nervous, but I will be fine.”
Aeros right-handed relief pitcher Shawn Armstrong just might be a closer in the making, based on his mentality.
“I am a really intense pitcher,” Armstrong said. “When I get on the mound, I get all hyped up. I am kind of low-key until I step up to the mound. Once I get on the mound and there is a batter in the box, there is no better feeling in the world for me. I am coming right after you. My mentality is to go after the hitter and get ahead in the count.”
Armstrong, 22, is also excited about a new-look Canal Park that has been spruced up under the guidance of owner Ken Babby.
“The new ownership has done a great job so far,” Armstrong said. “Walking into the stadium and seeing both new scoreboards is awesome. There is new padding on the walls. This is a great stadium to play. I loved it last year, and with all the new upgrades, I am excited to play this year.”
Two calls from ‘The Show’
Catcher Alex Lavisky and all of his Aeros teammates are just two calls away from playing Major League Baseball.
For Lavisky, the idea of playing for the Indians is special because he is a life-long fan of Cleveland pro sports teams after living in Cleveland and Lakewood.
“That would be tremendous,” Lavisky said. “To get up there would be a dream come true. That was one of the big reasons I decided to sign [after graduating from Lakewood St. Edward High School]. It is such a unique situation to be born and raised Cleveland, as blue-collar as it gets. To be able to maybe play in the big leagues with Cleveland and help that big-league team make the playoffs and win a World Series would just be a dream come true for me. This is a tremendous situation for my family and I. It could not have worked out any better.”
Lavisky, 22, was a three-year starter at quarterback on the St. Edward football team and a four-year letter winner in baseball. His favorite team is the Indians.
“The 1990s were amazing,” Lavisky said. “That was right when I was growing up, and then the early 2000s were sick. I am a Cleveland sports guy. I can’t get enough Indians, Browns and Cavaliers.”
Edwin Rodriguez is intrigued by the Aeros four infield prospects: Jesus Aguilar of Venezuela at first, Jose Ramirez of the Dominican Republic at second, Ronny Rodriguez of Dominican Republic at shortstop and Giovanny Urshela of Colombia at third. All four have found success at the plate, too.
Aguilar, 22, played most of last year at Carolina for Edwin Rodriguez and finished with the Aeros. Ronny Rodriguez, 20 and Urshela, 21, played the entire season at Carolina. Ramirez, 20 played at Mahoning Valley and Lake County.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Aeros blog at http://www.ohio.com/aeros. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.