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Salazar tabbed to start Indians' home opener

Salazar tabbed to start Indians' home opener

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Danny Salazar most recently pitched in Cleveland, Progressive Field was packed with a sellout crowd for the American League Wild Card Game against the Rays in October. The young right-hander's next outing there will have a similar environment.

On Wednesday, the Indians revealed that Salazar would start the home opener on April 4 against the Twins.

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"I'm very excited for it," Salazar said with a smile. "I wasn't expecting that, really. It took me by surprise."

The news caught Salazar off guard because the Indians had used an extremely conservative approach to his innings throughout Spring Training. There was speculation that the 24-year-old righty would begin the season in the fifth slot, allowing Cleveland to delay his season debut until April 8.

Such plans are always subject to change.

That was fine with Salazar.

"I just opened my Twitter, and everybody was saying congratulations," the pitcher said. "That's kind of cool. I liked it."

As of Wednesday, Salazar had logged just 5 1/3 innings in Cactus League play this spring. During the Tribe's exhibition game against the Padres on Saturday at the University of San Diego, Salazar is scheduled to work five innings. The righty said he had no issues with the way the Indians had built up his innings this spring.

"So far, I'm healthy and strong," said Salazar, who had a 3.12 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 52 innings (10 starts) for the Indians last year. "That's all that matters. I'm ready for the season. They told me in the beginning about the program for me. I agreed with it."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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