Chris Perez’s comments Tuesday focusing on his health and closing now seem more meaningful and telling.
Before the Cleveland Indians defeated their single-A affiliate Carolina Mudcats 13-0 Tuesday, Perez stopped to talk to a few other reporters and after signing fans’ memorabilia as batting-practice finished. He sounded confident he could close Thursday, against the Blue Jays.
“My body has responded,” Perez said. “It might be a battle, but I feel good.”
In spring training, he suffered a left-oblique injury early and only recently saw game action. Perez, pitched one inning each on March 29 and 31, and April 2 and never in the game’s final inning. He mentioned feeling good Tuesday after a recent bullpen session, but one wonders now if he was prepared.
By Kevin Schneider
As Shelley Duncan trotted around the outfield alone Tuesday before an exhibition game, he said he felt like a little kid again anticipating Opening Day.
“Nothing really preps you for the adrenaline rush you get from the introductions and running onto the field,” said Duncan, 32.
The 6-foot-5 outfielder looked around in awe at the checker Ed Green grass, the baseball-shaped Mudcats water tower beyond left field, and the American flag in center field waving briskly. Donning a red Louisville Slugger T-Shirt, Duncan said his baseball experiences have helped him keep his emotions in check as he prepares to break camp with the Indians.
By A.J. Atkinson
Few prospects are as talented as Cleveland Indians’ catcher Carlos Santana. Few prospects are also as rushed as Santana.
Based on how Tribe fans talk and the expectations they have set for Santana, one wouldn’t guess he’s only played 201 games. Even more surprising, this is only Santana’s fifth year catching.
In 2011, Santana only played 46 games before missing the rest of the season due to knee surgery after a collision at the plate. The surgery prevented Santana from participating in many of bench coach Sandy Alomar’s catching drills last spring training.
After showing postseason talent but failing to reach it due to injuries, Tribe fans looked toward the 2012 season. The recap of the Cleveland Indians’ first week of spring training, however, did not look good.
Newly resigned centerfielder Grady Sizemore injured his back and would miss Opening Day. The day before, Chris Perez, the Tribe’s closer and anchor to the bullpen, strained an oblique muscle and would be out for at least a month—another cornerstone who may be out for Opening Day.
Nearly two weeks before camp ends, Chris Perez said he’s on track to close the Tribe’s opener against the Toronto Blue Jays if needed Aug. 5.
“I’m scheduled to get into six or seven (spring training) games right now—hopefully that’s enough,” Chris Perez said. “If I bounce back and after my outings my arm feels good, hopefully I can break camp (as the Opening Day closer).”
By Mike Brandyberry
Every budding prospect thinks about the day he makes the big leagues and achieves that first major league base hit. For the Indians’ Jason Kipnis, his first major league single couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I just told myself on deck, what better time than now would it be to get a hit. It would make up for everything,” said Kipnis, who started slowly once being promoted from AAA-Columbus. “It was also my first at-bat versus a lefty up there. So far, all I had seen were Gavin Floyd and Dan Haren, two guys that live by throwing cutters in, something you don’t see too much in the minors, so a lefty was actually a break for me.”
With 60 days remaining before Indians pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Ariz., it appears the Tribe does not have too many roster spots available on the pitching staff heading to Opening Day. However, a player competing for one of those open spots is left-handed, relief pitcher Nick Hagadone.
One open spot exists because Chad Durbin filed for free agency and is not expected to return to the Tribe. Hagadone, along with Zach Putnam, Chen Lee and incumbent Frank Herrmann, will compete for the final two spots in the bullpen. “The open spot or two in the bullpen is the type of thing I try not to pay any attention to,” Hagadone said. “Getting caught up in any distractions will only take away from my preparation for the season. I’ll be ready to compete from the beginning of Spring Training regardless of the situation.”
Despite a surprising 2011 season that had the Indians exceeding expectations, it didn’t end the way reliever Vinnie Pestano wanted it to and left him hungry for 2012.
“Last season was my first losing season I have been a part of since I was 13, and hopefully it’s the last for a long, long time,” Pestano said. “Taking the loss the last game of the year hurt a lot. That was the difference in us being .500 and still stings as I think about it now.”