By Mike Brandyberry
The Indians are still six days from their first exhibition game, but Lonnie Soloff has already become too popular in the Tribe’s camp. MLB.com Indians beat reporter Jordan Bastian tweeted this morning that closer Chris Perez has been shut down and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a strained left oblique.
Bastain tweeted that Perez will not be scheduled to throw live batting practice for the next three days. Manager Manny Acta and Perez would not comment on the injury, or how long he would be sidelined, deferring all questions this morning to head trainer, Lonnie Soloff. Soloff stated that his body was not ready for the intensity of his first bullpen session.
At this time, Soloff was not ready to pronounce Perez out for Opening Day. Soloff already had to address the media on Friday when it was announced that Grady Sizemore had been shut down from baseball activities with a lower back strain. Sizemore is expected to be unavailable for Opening Day.
Last season was Perez’s first full season as the Tribe closer. He was 4-7, with a 3.32 ERA and 36 saves. He also made his first All-Star appearance. If Perez is unable to pitch on Opening Day, Vinnie Pestano would most likely move into the closer position. Pestano closed two games in Cincinnati last June when Perez left the team due to the death of his grandmother. Joe Smith would likely move into the right-handed set up role and another bullpen position could be available. The Tribe has several spring invitees and AAA pitchers from last season that will vie for the final bullpen roles.
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