CLEVELAND: Indians pitcher Danny Salazar is expected to be available in the bullpen for the first time for either Wednesday night or Thursday afternoon’s games against the Oakland Athletics.
The Indians on Sunday announced that Salazar would be temporarily moved to the bullpen in an effort to try to sort through some issues that included his aggressiveness. Salazar has posted a 5.50 ERA this season, never being able to find his stride or make the adjustments to discover the same level at which he pitched through most of last season.
The next question: In what situations might Salazar be utilized? The Indians already have a deep, talented bullpen to which Salazar will be added. He could enter in a high-level situation or if a starting pitcher isn’t able to go deep into a game. The ideal situation might be a blowout in which the Indians can just get him some in-game work.
“It’s not like he’s 21 years old in his first month in the big leagues, so there could be a time where — I guess the perfect scenario is we’re up 10 and we give him an inning,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That doesn’t happen all the time. And we certainly have other guys in the bullpen that are used to coming in with runners on base. We’ll kind of pay attention to it, always knowing you’re trying to win the game, but you also have a responsibility to want to get him going, and get him going in the right direction.”
It’s certainly nothing new with the Indians. Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin all have previously spent time in the bullpen after being a starter while working on some unresolved issue. Part of the idea is that a change in approach — relievers have to attack from the first pitch — might help to reset a starting pitcher in a positive way.
“This is not our goal to have him be in the bullpen, but it wasn’t getting done well enough,” Francona said. “So, we needed to make some improvements. The last thing we want to do is just say, ‘Hey, Danny. Figure it out.’ That’s not fair.”
Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper and San Francisco Giants reliever Hunter Strickland started one of the more heated baseball brawls in recent memory on Monday.
After Strickland hit Harper with a fastball, Harper threw his helmet at Strickland and both players landed punches before each bench cleared, which led to some collisions, pushing and shoving. Both players were suspended on Tuesday — Strickland for six games and Harper for four.
For a manager, seeing players throwing punches can be a nerve-wracking experience.
Francona recalled one of the bigger ones he’s been involved in — in 1999 as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies when Paul Byrd and Eddie Perez instigated a benches-clearing incident.
“They’re shoving and I was the first one out of the dugout because I’m right [there],” Francona said. “I’m like, ‘Woah.’ I’m like in the middle of it.’ It was so funny, Scott Rolen said somebody just spit me out of the pile. Like I was down underneath and I just rolled over there. I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ Rolen was like, ‘That was the funniest thing I have ever seen.’”
Asked if he was ever tempted as a player to charge the mound, Francona added while laughing, “No. S***. Get hit and it’s like insult to injury, then get your a** beat? I’m not going to do it. It already hurts, why get beat up?”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ.