OAKLAND, Calif.: His start in the Indians’ home opener was 50 hours away, but Indians right-hander Danny Salazar said he was already beginning to prepare himself mentally.
“A little bit nervous,” he said Wednesday morning before the Tribe took on the Oakland Athletics in a day-night doubleheader at O.co Coliseum. “Closing the year in Cleveland, now opening the year. The people are going to be really crazy cheering for us.”
Salazar, 24, started the last game at Progressive Field, a 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League wild-card game on Oct. 2. He said Friday’s assignment against the Minnesota Twins will be a little easier because of that experience, but said, “This is a way different thing.”
A year ago, Salazar was with the Double-A Aeros. He started seven games for the Aeros, then pitched in 10 games for Triple-A Columbus before being promoted to the Indians on July 11. He made a total of 14 Triple-A appearances, including 13 starts, before being called up for good on Aug. 7.
Now he’s the Tribe’s No. 4 starter. Salazar remembers the journey, but is not dwelling on it.
“This year is going to be my first game and it’s going to be at home and I’m excited for it,” he said. “I know last year it was just one game to see who goes to the playoffs. Now this is going to be fun.”
His final spring tune-up came Saturday against the San Diego Padres at the University of San Diego.
“I allowed a couple runs, but I feel good, healthy and strong and that’s all that matters,” he said.
Asked if he’s ready to unleash his 100 mph fastball, Salazar said, “I’ll try.”
Indians manager Terry Francona said it was the A’s decision on rescheduling Tuesday night’s rained out game. But he was fine with the doubleheader, even though it made for a long day. The Tribe is off Thursday.
He said the Indians had only two other options, a stopover on a June trip to Arizona or one on an August trip to Minnesota.
“We needed to be careful what we wish for,” Francona said. “It’s too easy to push off a game and say, ‘We’ll get to it later.’ Then later comes and it gets difficult.”
Francona likes that everyone on the roster will have played a game between Saturday in San Diego and the home opener Friday.
Designated hitter Jason Giambi, on the disabled list with a fractured rib, will know more about where he stands when he gets to Cleveland and faces high-velocity pitches from a machine. He hasn’t played since March 7.
“It’s easy to take BP, I’m going to have to take a couple swings and misses to see how I feel,” he said.
Giambi said he would not hesitate to go on a minor-league rehab assignment, especially with another roster move to be made when center fielder Michael Bourn (left hamstring) returns from the DL.
Reliever C.C. Lee flew in from Triple-A Columbus to serve as the Indians’ 26th man for the second game of the doubleheader. He flew home with the Indians and will drive to Columbus for the Clippers opener Thursday. … Yan Gomes caught the first game for the Indians, with Carlos Santana slated for the second. Francona said the Indians didn’t consider calling up a catcher instead of Lee because they don’t have another one on the 40-man roster.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com.