CLEVELAND -- The Indians are looking at much more than pitching lines while evaluating Danny Salazar's progress since being sent down to Triple-A Columbus. The young righty was tasked with fine-tuning some mechanical flaws, and Cleveland was encouraged by his last outing.
"His line score wasn't very good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But it sounded like he threw a lot more fastballs down in the zone. He had gotten a little out of whack in his delivery."
Prior to optioning the 24-year-old Salazar to Triple-A on May 16, Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway -- with the assistance of Triple-A pitching coach Tony Arnold, director of baseball operations Derek Falvey and special assistant to baseball operations Jason Bere -- presented the pitcher with some still images to compare his delivery this year to how it looked last season.
During his early season stint in the Indians' rotation, the Tribe's staff found that Salazar was raising his lead arm too high in his delivery. That was creating a chain reaction throughout the right-hander's throwing motion, contributing to decreased velocity and hindering his ability to pound the lower half of the strike zone.
"It wasn't so much the height of his lead arm," Francona explained. "It's what it was doing to the rest of everything else. He was kind of rocking and wasn't driving off that back leg."
In eight starts with the Indians this year, Salazar went 1-4 with a 5.53 ERA in 40 2/3 innings, in which he piled up 47 strikeouts, but issued 17 walks, allowed eight home runs and saw batters hit at a .301 clip against him. That was a drastic contrast to 2013, when Salazar spun a 3.12 ERA with 65 strikeouts and 15 walks in 52 innings for Cleveland.
"We've got to get him back to being in a strong position," Francona said, "where he can throw the ball down with some drive. I think he understands that. It may not happen overnight."
In three starts since being optioned to Columbus, Salazar has gone 0-3 with a 7.11 ERA in 12 2/3 innings, striking out 15, walking eight and allowing a .356 opponents' average. He allowed eight runs in eight innings combined over his first two starts with the Clippers. On Friday, Salazar yielded three runs on 11 hits in just 4 2/3 innings against Louisville.
"Just talking to Jason Bere," Francona said, "he said, 'Don't let that line score beat you up. He wasn't that bad.' That was good to hear."