Chris Perez throws bullpen session, aims to pitch in a game next week

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Chris Perez’s bullpen session yesterday went a lot better than the one that left him with a strained left oblique nearly a month ago.

According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Perez threw 20 pitches — all fastballs — in his first throwing session since the injury and felt no pain in his side. He’s scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Sunday and live batting practice on Tuesday. Barring any setbacks, he could make his Cactus League debut next Friday against the Angels.

It’s not known if he’ll be ready for Opening Day, but Indians’ manager Manny Acta said he would be comfortable if Perez made six or seven appearances before the team breaks camp. If he pitches next Friday, there would be just 11 games left on the Cactus League schedule, so it’s possible he could get some work in on the minor league side.

Perez, 26, posted a 3.32 ERA and 39/26 K/BB ratio across 59 2/3 innings last season while saving 36 games in 40 chances. Vinnie Pestano would likely handle save chances if he’s not ready for the start of the season.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.