Thanks to his mid-90s fastball and fantastic strikeout totals Danny Salazar was a popular breakout pick for 2015, but after a rough start Thursday the Indians have decided to send the 25-year-old right-hander back to Triple-A.
Cleveland has solid rotation depth, but Salazar has a 3.89 ERA in 30 career starts while racking up 185 strikeouts in 162 innings. His control can be spotty, but there isn’t much more for him to prove in the minors and he’s already performed like a useful mid-rotation starter in the majors. And even while struggling this spring he posted a 15/5 K/BB ratio in 11 innings.
Salazar figures to be back in Cleveland soon enough and the demotion likely had a lot to do with him having one minor-league option remaining, so the Indians could trim him from the rotation competition without losing someone else useful on waivers. Still, he’s probably one of the Indians’ five best starters and he definitely has one of the five highest upside among Indians starters. Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin are now competing for the fifth starter gig.
Making official what was reported earlier this week, Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced that Masahiro Tanaka will start Opening Day.
Tanaka was brilliant as a rookie last season, going 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA and 141/21 K/BB ratio in 136 innings, but he was shut down with elbow problems in July and has spent all spring trying to show that he can continue pitching without undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The results have been very promising, with a 1.74 ERA and 12/1 K/BB ratio in 10 spring training innings, and the Yankees feel confident enough in Tanaka’s health to send him out there for Game 1.
Girardi also announced that Tanaka will be followed in the rotation by Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, and Nathan Eovaldi, with the fifth spot unnamed (but presumed to be going to Adam Warren).
Despite being a consistent .300 hitter in the minors Johnny Giavotella never got an extended shot in Kansas City, but the Angels acquired him on the cheap in December and now he’s in line to replace Howie Kendrick as their starting second baseman.
Giavotella is hitting .412 this spring and manager Mike Scioscia told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times:
He’s getting a chance, and he’s feeling more comfortable on the defensive end. We need someone to step up, and he’s doing a nice job.
Giavotella hit just .238 with a .612 OPS in 125 games for the Royals, but never received as many as 200 plate appearances in a season. He’s still just 27 years old and is a career .315 hitter in 413 games at Triple-A, where he’s drawn 184 walks compared to 192 strikeouts and shown a decent power-speed combo.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels revealed that veteran outfielder Ryan Ludwick will not make the Opening Day roster, saying:
All-world guy. I hope he catches a big league job with another team. I think he can help somebody. As we look at it today, we thought other options in camp fit the roster better.
Ludwick signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers in early February and it would have paid $1.75 million if he made the team at age 36.
Ludwick was an All-Star in 2008 and had a big season for the Reds as recently as 2012, but he’s failed to crack a .700 OPS in each of the past two seasons and struggled in camp. If he wants to continue playing he may have to go prove he’s still got something left in the tank at Triple-A.
Jared Burton, who signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees after the Twins declined his $3.6 million option, has been released.
Burton pitched decently in camp, but showed major signs of slowing down for Minnesota last season and at age 34 looks like a middle reliever rather than the setup-caliber arm he was in 2012-2013.
Burton had a 4.36 ERA and 46/25 K/BB ratio in 64 innings for the Twins last season.