With Kerry Wood throwing bullpen sessions in attempt to recover from a back injury, the Cleveland Indians will continue to go to Chris Perez with late game duties despite two recent outings that could be kindly described as terrible. Head coach Manny Acta stuck up for his temporary closer following yesterday’s loss to the Texas Rangers.
“[Perez] saved two very good games in Chicago and we were celebrating and being happy,” said Acta. “He had two bad outings in a row, [but] we’re not going to run him out of town because of that.
The four reference outings could not be more night and day. In Chicago, Perez recorded two saves while allowing only one base runner in two innings of work, striking out one. On Sunday in Detroit, things took a turn for the worst as Perez walked three batters, gave up three hits and allowed three earned runs in a blown save and a loss.
In the home opener, the box score was a lot more friendly to Perez, but only because he was subsequently bailed out by his teammates. The would-be closer entered the game in the eighth inning with the score tied. Allowing a walk and a hit, Perez also threw a fielder’s choice attempt wide of third base on a key bunt play resulting in two men on and no outs.
“He could have easily been out of the inning, but he threw that ball on that bunt to third base a little bit to the left of Cabrera,” said Acta. “That was just not being able to make that play, the whole outing could’ve changed right there with a man on first and one out.”
Tony Sipp and Jamey Wright bailed Perez out of the inning, only to have Wright give up a shot to Nelson Cruz in the top of the ninth.
“It was the bottom of the order and I let all three guys get on and that is is unacceptable,” said Perez. I have to go back to the drawing board and figure some stuff out. Obviously I still haven’t fixed what was wrong in spring training.”
There has been speculation that the Indians are looking to move Kerry Wood at some point this season due to his large contract and the penchant for contenders to add bullpen arms late in the season. A prime example of this would be last season’s trade of Rafael Betancourt to the Colorado Rockies. Needless to say, if Wood would be moved, the team would need to locate a surefire closer to step in, and this would be an opportune time for Perez to shine.
“I told [Perez] that he was going to be okay and that we’re counting on him,” said Acta. “Two days from now he’s going to have an opportunity to save again.”
Obviously, the recent implosion by the bullpen brings back memories of the recent poor seasons by the same unit. Last season, the Indians had the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in all of baseball (4.66) and made trades to address the concern as Chris Perez and Jess Todd were acquired from St. Louis for uber utility man Mark DeRosa. The team even went as far as putting prospect starter Hector Rondon in the bullpen with hopes of finding an answer.
Thus far through 2010, the Indians have a bullpen ERA of 4.70. Despite the early struggles, Manny Acta is not voicing much concern as he is displeasure and faith.
“It’s nothing to be happy about, but we are not the only team that has had some struggle on the back end,” Acta said. “It’s going to get better as the season goes on.”
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)