Indians-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

Outspoken Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez criticized team management this week for not spending the money needed to make the club a contender.

The Minnesota Twins signed one of the players that Perez wishes was in an Indians uniform, but not even the addition of slugger Josh Willingham in the offseason has kept the Twins out of the AL basement.

Willingham could return to the lineup Friday night when the owners of the worst records in the league open a series at Target Field.

Rarely at a loss for words - he criticized Indians fans earlier this season for not attending games at Progressive Field when the team was leading the AL Central - Perez compared Detroit owner Mike Ilitch's spending habits to those of Indians owner Larry Dolan in a report Wednesday.

"He's got a team to show for it," Perez said in the report of Ilitch, whose team is one game back in the division. Perez, fourth in the AL with 34 saves, also said that the difference between the Indians and Tigers is ''different owners.''

Perez, fourth in the AL with 34 saves, added in the story that the Indians weren't willing to pay what it took to get Willingham in the offseason.

''While we work to understand various perspectives, we strongly disagree with Chris's comments,'' general manager Chris Antonetti said in a statement. ''Nonetheless, we are not satisfied with our recent results and our entire organization remains committed to fielding winning teams and that is the standard by which we will continue to operate.''

The Indians (58-79) trail Central-leading Chicago by 16 1/2 games.

Minnesota (56-81) lost two of three on the road to the White Sox this week and return home, where they've lost 10 of 12 and will be opening a 10-game stretch.

Willingham leads the Twins with 33 homers and 98 RBIs, though he's been dealing with a sore hamstring. He came on as a pinch-hitter to end Wednesday's 6-2 loss to the White Sox.

"He thinks he'll be able to get back out there and maybe play some outfield," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins' official website.

Willingham has three homers and 10 RBIs against the Twins this season.

However, he's 1 for 9 against Jeanmar Gomez (5-7, 5.08 ERA), who did not allow an earned run in seven innings of a 5-4 win at Minnesota on May 14.

This will be the right-hander's third appearance and second start since getting called up from Triple-A Columbus to replace the injured Roberto Hernandez. Gomez allowed three runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-3 win over Texas on Saturday that snapped the Indians' six-game skid.

The last time these teams met, Cleveland avoided a team record-tying 12th consecutive loss with a 6-2 home win Aug. 8. The Twins had outscored Cleveland 62-21 while winning the previous seven matchups.

Minnesota will look to improve to 8-4 against the Indians in 2012 with Liam Hendriks (0-7, 6.11) getting another shot at his first major league win.

The rookie right-hander gave up five runs and a season-high 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings of an 8-7 victory at Kansas City on Saturday.

"(Hendriks' teammates) want to see him get it and so do I," Gardenhire said. "But he's going to have to earn it and today he didn't earn it.''

Minnesota swept a three-game series in the Indians' last visit July 27-29.

What to Read Next