CLEVELAND — Indians closer Chris Perez met with the media Saturday at Progressive Field, but refused to address his recent arrest for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
The two-time All-Star, who has been on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder since May 27, will begin a rehabilitation assignment today at Single-A Lake County.
If all goes well, Perez could be activated Monday when the Tribe begins a three-game home series against Kansas City.
“This isn’t like I’m going to try it out and see what happens with my shoulder — I’m over the injury,” said Perez, who is
2-1 with six saves and a 4.32 ERA in 17 appearances this season. “There is no pain or anything like that. I’m really just happy I don’t have to have surgery.
“I played catch again today and felt fine, outside of being a little dusty and a little rusty, so I’m ready to go out tomorrow and work on my control at Lake County.”
The 27-year-old made his first public comments since June 4, when a third of a pound of marijuana was mailed to his Rocky River home, addressed to his dog Brody.
Perez and his wife, Melanie, pleaded not guilty when they were charged in a complaint June 7.
Indians media relations director Bart Swain opened the brief question-and-answer session by announcing: “Chris has a pending legal matter that he is not allowed to comment on. If you want to talk to him about his shoulder and his recovery, feel free to ask away.”
Manager Terry Francona, however, said he has spoken with Perez about the issue.
“I am not permitted to say much, but I have talked to Chris at length,” he said. “I feel like he’s in a good place and will be ready to help our team when he comes back.”
Perez has been Cleveland’s full-time closer since August 2010 and ranks third in franchise history with 105 saves, trailing Bob Wickman (139) and Doug Jones (129). This is his first career stint on the DL.
Though Perez was put on the shelf one day after blowing a save May 26 at Boston, he said his right shoulder began feeling sore May 11 when he saved a game in Detroit.
“I felt a pinch on a pitch to (Tigers slugger Miguel) Cabrera,” he said. “I couldn’t warm up the next day, and obviously tried to work through it for a little while after that.”
The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder then stretched his right arm high above his head, adding, “I haven’t been able to do this for two months, so it was affecting everything I did on the mound.”
Francona said he will trust Perez to tell him when he is ready to rejoin the Indians’ bullpen, even if that means making additional rehab appearances in the minors.
“He needs some reps, and he’ll get some at Lake County,” said Francona, who has placed a one-inning, 25-pitch limit on Perez’s outing with the Captains. “If he’s ready Monday, so be it. If he needs another game, let’s do that. I’m going to leave it up to Chris to see how he feels.”
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