PEORIA, Ariz. — Danny Salazar will take the mound under game conditions Friday for the first time. The right-hander has been limited to bullpen sessions since arriving at training camp, as the Indians handle the potential superstar with caution this spring.
It was a breakthrough season in 2013 for the 24-year-old Salazar, a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He began the season still trying to work his way completely back from reconstructive right elbow surgery, ending it as a member of the rotation and the Indians’ starting pitcher in the American League wild-card game.
“There was a little bit of adrenaline at first, once I got out there and saw all those people,” Salazar said of his postseason debut in Cleveland. “I tried not to think too much, so I could try to do my best. That was awesome. The first time I get called up in my first year and I have the opportunity to pitch in a playoff game. That’s huge.”
Salazar, who went 2-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 10 starts, is looking to build on what he started in 2013. To do that, Salazar knows he will have to make adjustments, as hitters began to familiarize themselves with him.
“I like to use my fastball all the time, so I know I have to mix it inside and outside,” he said. “I like to throw my fastball outside a lot. Once you’re outside, at some point, they’re going to get comfortable watching that pitch, so you have mix it up.
“You learn something new every day. The league’s going to tell you how to pitch and the adjustments that you have to make.”
Salazar, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 and has been treated with extreme care since, tossed a career-high 145 innings last year between Cleveland and the minors.
The workload is one of the main reasons the Indians have delayed Salazar’s exhibition debut. Francona was asked how many innings he thought his pitcher needed this spring.
“It depends on a lot of things,” he said. “How many guys we have in the bullpen, how built up he was? We’d have to see if he’s starting the third game of the season as opposed to the eighth. Those are all different types of things.”
The Indians signed prospects Jose Ramirez (infielder) and Jesus Aguilar (first baseman) to one-year contracts.
The 21-year-old Ramirez, a native of the Dominican Republic, is ranked by Baseball America as Cleveland’s ninth-best prospect. He spent the majority of last season at Double-A Akron (113 games), where he batted .272 with three homers, 38 RBIs and an Eastern-League leading 38 stolen bases.
Aguilar, 23, set Akron’s single-season record with 105 RBIs in 130 games, batting .275 with 16 homers. BA ranked him as Cleveland’s 10th-best prospect prior to the 2103 season.
Fifth-starter candidate, right-hander Shaun Marcum, was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday in Goodyear, followed by another one Saturday. But there is no set deadline for the veteran, who is recovering from surgery to alleviate nerve and blood vessel compression in his right shoulder, to make his exhibition debut.
“That’s why we said the very first day we’ll listen to his arm,” Francona said. “That’s part of the program. I think you can really mess up with guys like that. You can put those artificial deadlines in and they’ll all do it, if you tell them to they’ll all throw. But I don’t know if that puts them in the best position. ”
The Indians announced that former MLB player and Cleveland native Matt Kata has joined the front office and will serve as manager of youth baseball development and initiatives. Kata was born in Avon Lake and attended St. Ignatius High School. He was drafted by the Diamondbacks, one of five teams he played for during a 14-year professional career. … Today, 3:05 vs. Chicago Cubs (Goodyear Ballpark). No television or radio (Indians.com). Masterson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Wood (0-0. 0.00).