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AL wild-card notebook: Indians keep Perez on roster

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- Chris Perez, who endured a horrible month of September and lost his job as the Cleveland Indians' closer over the last weekend of the regular season, nonetheless made the team's roster for the American League wild-card game Wednesday.

In 10 September appearances, Perez posted a 9.64 ERA. Opposing batters hit .419 against him. In 9 1/3 innings, Perez gave up 10 runs on 18 hits, including four home runs.

"It was not a tough decision to put him on the roster," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He went through a tough stretch, but he did everything with the right attitude, so we wanted him on the roster."

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon said it is easy for managers and teams to overthink their decisions when they reach the postseason.

"The tendency is you feel like you have to be smarter, when actually the opposite is true. You need to keep it simple," Maddon said.

--Wednesday's wild-card game was not the first time Francona and Maddon met in the postseason. The two managers faced each other in the 2008 AL Championship Series when Francona was the manager of the Boston Red Sox. Tampa Bay won the series in seven games.

Francona said, "They have found a way to compete in the AL East with a small payroll, so I have a lot of respect for Joe and his team."

Said Maddon, "We've had some great battles, and I have so much respect for Terry. When he gives us compliments like that, he's complimenting our players."

--Francona said one of the keys to the Indians' success this season was their ability to sign first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher as a free agent last winter.

"We put on a full-court press for Swish. We wanted him bad. That was a big deal for us," Francona said. "His personality is the same every day. He never gets tired. I don't know how he does it."

Swisher also produced down the stretch, hitting seven home runs and driving in 17 runs in September, his highest single-month totals this year.

--The Rays finished second in the American League with a .990 fielding percentage, and their 59 errors were the second fewest in the league behind Baltimore's 54. Maddon gives a lot of the credit to his infield: first baseman James Loney, second baseman Ben Zobrist, shortstop Yunel Escobar and third baseman Evan Longoria.

"This is our best infield defense since I've been here," Maddon said. "I'm not sure there's a better defensive infield in the league."
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