By Tom Withers | Associated Press
CLEVELAND -- The Indians believe the only tipping Danny Salazar is doing is to cab drivers and waitresses.
He's giving away runs.
One night after Cleveland's struggling right-hander said he might be tipping his pitches, Indians manager Terry Francona said Salazar is just leaving too many over the plate.
Francona was surprised Salazar would say he was giving hitters clues.
"He's not," Francona said. "There were some instances last year in spring training that we kind of addressed with him. But, no, we really keep an eye on that. Believe me we do."
Francona said pitching coach Mickey Callaway planned to speak with Salazar about his concerns.
Salazar dropped to 0-3 on Tuesday night, when he was chased in the fifth inning by the Royals, who didn't get a hit off him until the fourth.
With the loss, Salazar fell to 1-7 since winning a spectacular major league debut in July. Francona said Salazar's biggest problem has been his inability to stay away from the middle of the plate, but he doesn't believe the 24-year-old is letting hitters know what's coming.
Still, the Indians are being careful. If Salazar is tipping pitches, they want to stop it.
"There are some teams in this league that are so good at picking up stuff, whether it's signs from second," Francona said. "There are some smart baseball people out there, and then with the technology in place, you really have to keep an eye on things like that, which we do."
Francona said he might think differently if the Royals were hitting some of Salazar's better pitches.
"They weren't doing that," he said. "When he made pitches, he got 'em."
Salazar coasted through the first three innings without allowing a hit. However, in the fourth he gave up consecutive singles, and then a two-out homer to Mike Moustakas, who crushed a change-up into Kansas City's bullpen.
Following the game, Salazar said he thought he was tipping his off-speed pitch.
"With my change-up, sometimes I open up my glove too much," he said. "That's the only thing I've noticed."
Francona could be protecting Salazar by saying he's not tipping his pitches. He also could be trying to knock the Royals off the scent.
Whatever the case, the Indians have no plans to demote Salazar, who had a similarly good-one-minute-bad-the-next start last week in Detroit. He began last season at Double-A Akron, but soared through Cleveland's system and wound up starting the AL wild-card game against Tampa Bay.
Francona thought Salazar threw some "unhittable" pitches against the Royals, but a couple that were costly.
"He nursed it," he said of the change-up to Moustakas, "and it hurt us."
Francona has chalked up some of Salazar's early season issues to the normal growing pains of a young pitcher trying to adjust to major league hitters. Francona has been asked numerous times about a small drop in Salazar's speed, but said it's on par with where it was last season.
"His velocity is identical to what it was last April," Francona said. "That probably means as the season progresses he'll build into more."