The Spring Training injury bug bit another victim out in Goodyear, AZ, this time chomping down on the midsection of Chris Perez. The Indians closer suffered a strained left oblique and will miss the next 4-6 weeks. Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff did not rule out a return prior to Opening Day, which is 39 days away.
Perez, who went 36/40 in save chances last year, threw one live mound session this past week and was scratched from all subsequent appearances. Soloff addressed the media saying that the cause for the injury was that Perez's body "wasn't ready for the intensity" that he threw with during his first bullpen of the Spring.
The Indians are hopeful that Perez will be able to make a few Spring Training apperances near the end of the Cactus League schedule. They are optimistic that the shorter time period needed for closers to build their arms up and get in game shape will allow Perez to be ready for Opening Day.
If Perez is unavailable to close at the start of the season, Vinnie Pestano would likely shift to the closer's role with Joe Smith becoming the primary eighth inning right handed setup man. Guys who could get extended looks in Spring Training for the additional bullpen spot, if there is one, would include Jeremy Accardo, Chris Ray, Chen Lee, Dan Wheeler, and Frank Herrmann.
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