A late scratch from Friday’s Cactus League game against the Chicago White Sox and tight-lipped responses from manager Terry Francona led to a lot of speculation about the status of Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez.
Was he traded? Suspended for improper conduct? Perhaps dealing with a family emergency?
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No one knew for sure initially, but it turns out he was actually injured in his most recent spring outing against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.
On Friday, two days before Perez was scheduled to join Team USA for the international tournament, Cleveland announced that the closer suffered a subscapularis strain in his throwing shoulder. The two-time All-Star will be shut down for a period of seven to 10 days, with the goal of returning to game activity within the next three to four weeks.
That timetable puts Perez at risk for missing Opening Day.
"It's really difficult to replace a closer like Chris," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "He means a lot to the team, and I'm hopeful we won't need to. I'm hopeful he'll be ready to start the season."
As mentioned, Perez first felt the twinge during his appearance on Tuesday. He would go on to finish his one inning of work with one strikeout and one hit allowed, but one can certainly question the wisdom of continuing in a spring game when you feel something isn’t quite right. The handful of extra pitches needed could have easily turned a day-to-day situation into a week-to-week problem that now leaves his Opening Day status in doubt.
Of course we’re not doctors, either, so maybe it wasn’t a big deal at all. But if there was some discontent over how Perez handled it, it just might help to explain Francona’s demeanor and also why Perez left the ballpark Friday without speaking to the media.
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