KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Cleveland ace Corey Kluber had a long-toss session and Indians right-hander Danny Salazar threw on the side on Friday, providing a pair of encouraging signs for the injury-riddled AL Central champions.
The Indians will begin the playoffs with only two healthy veteran starting pitchers; right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Left-hander Rick Merritt made his first big league start Friday at Kansas City after three relief appearances.
Cleveland also placed Carlos Carrasco on the 60-day disabled list before the series opener against the Royals, sidelining the right-hander for the rest of the year. Carrasco broke the pinkie finger on his pitching hand when he was hit by a line drive on Sept. 17.
Kluber, the 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner, left his start Monday with a strained quadriceps. Salazar, an All-Star selection this year, has a forearm strain.
Kluber is 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA in 32 starts this year.
“He’s not on the mound yet, but he’s keeping his arm nice and stretched out,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And he’s making progress, too.”
Francona said he does not know when Kluber will throw off the mound.
“We can set up all we want, but until he’s ready we don’t want to,” Francona said. “He’ll push enough. We don’t need to push.”
The Indians are optimistic Kluber could start the second or third game of the American League Division Series if he has no setbacks.
Salazar, who has not pitched since Sept. 9, could throw a simulated game Monday.
“It’s not necessarily etched in stone, but it’s probably the next thing he’ll do,” Francona said.
Also Friday, the Indians activated catcher Yan Gomes from the 60-day DL. Gomes broke his right wrist during a minor league rehab assignment after he had been sidelined by a shoulder injury.
While Gomes was hitting .165 in 71 games, Indians pitchers had a 3.62 ERA when he was behind the plate, which is the best among four Indians catchers used this season.
Francona said Gomes is not ready to hit.
“If we put him in it’d be for defense and we’ll kind of go from there,” Francona said. “But, I think just the fact that he can get in the game and play defense is exciting for him and us.”
Gomes did take batting practice before the game.
“That’s probably the one that I’ve got to figure out the impact and being able to tolerate it,” Gomes said.