SEATTLE -- The Indians are closely monitoring the workload of starting pitching prospect Danny Salazar considering his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Under the circumstances, one late-season scenario could be shifting Salazar to the big league bullpen.
Indians manager Terry Francona said it is not that simple.
"He looks and fits the profile. I agree with all that," Francona said on Monday. "It seems like it'd be easy to bring him in the seventh and let him throw. He controls the running game and all those things. But there are other things to think about."
Francona said one of the complicating factors is being unaccustomed to a relief role, which can involve being called upon on short notice. Cleveland is also keeping Salazar's two-year comeback from reconstructive right elbow surgery in mind. Moving from a starting schedule to a bullpen job could create more injury risk.
Salazar only logged 87 2/3 innings last year between Class A (high) Carolina and Double-A Akron.
All of that said, the Indians have not ruled out such a decision.
"How about I answer it in general?" Francona said. "There may be, down the road, ways to fortify our bullpen internally. It doesn't necessarily have to be Danny Salazar. We could maybe go a route like that. It doesn't have to be Danny. It could be somebody else. But it is something we've thought about."
Through 19 games this season, spent between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, the 23-year-old Salazar has gone 5-5 with a 3.19 ERA. Over 79 Minor League innings, the hard-throwing right-hander has compiled 104 strikeouts against 23 walks.
In a spot start for the Tribe on July 11, Salazar showed off his electric fastball, which can hit 96-98 mph, and a strong slider and changeup. Facing the Blue Jays, the right-hander worked six innings, allowing one hit and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts.