CLEVELAND — Indians catcher Yan Gomes may play in October, after all.
Gomes, who broke his right hand during a minor league injury rehabilitation appearance late in the season, has progressed to the point that Cleveland may include him in its postseason roster when the Indians open the AL Division Series on Thursday against Boston.
“He’s remarkable,” Indians manager Terry Francona said Tuesday before a workout at Progressive Field.
It’s been a challenging season for Gomes, who separated his right shoulder on July 17 and spent two months on the disabled list. During his final game with Double-A Akron before his expected return, he was struck by a pitch and it appeared his season was over.
However, Gomes worked himself back into the lineup last week. He homered on Sunday in Kansas City, connecting on the first pitch he had seen in a major league game in 77 days.
Francona did not reveal his roster, but Gomes wore shin pads during infield drills and took batting practice. Francona praised Indians trainers Lonnie Soloff and Jim Mehalik for helping Gomes during his recovery.
“I don’t think Yan thought there was a chance this was possible,” Francona said. “I know Lonnie kind of put it in his head. I think it took Yan maybe a night to kind of grasp that there was a chance. And then once he did, he was all in, like you can see.”
When Gomes homered, the Indians’ dugout erupted in celebration. As he watched on television, Indians president Chris Antonetti was moved as well.
“It gave me chills,” Antonetti said. “To know how hard he’s worked and all he’s been through throughout the course of the season, for him to hit a home run — not only for himself, but the impact it had on the team — you just couldn’t write a better script. I was just so happy for him more than anything.”
The Indians, who overcame injuries while winning their first AL Central title since 2007, also have been encouraged by the improvement they’ve seen in injured starter Danny Salazar, who has been sidelined with a strained forearm.
The right-hander won’t pitch against Boston, but Salazar might be back on the mound if the Indians advance. He has been increasing his velocity and pitch count during recent bullpen sessions with the hope that he might be able to pitch in relief during the offseason.
In the meantime, the team is sending him to their training facility in Goodyear, Arizona, where he can get more attention and treatment.
“He’ll continue on a throwing program, try to build up his arm strength, feel completely healthy and we’ll see where it goes from there,” Antonetti said. “The first goal is just to make sure he’s full healthy and at full strength. From there, we’ll determine what the best role might be. But, I would imagine it would be in shorter stints. It’s not going to be in a starting spot.”
“Danny obviously wants to pitch. They work throughout the course of the year and in spring training just to get to this point and have the opportunity to pitch or play in the postseason. Danny’s just not to that point. I think if he could pitch, he would.”
The 26-year-old went 11-6 with a 3.87 in 25 starts before leaving a Sept. 9 outing after four innings.