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: Aaron Judge, Yankees reach 9-year, $360M deal

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SAN DIEGO — Aaron Judge has agreed to return to the New York Yankees on a nine-year, $360 million contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press because the deal had not been announced.

Judge will earn $40 million per season, the highest average annual payout for a position player. The contract trails only Mike Trout’s $426.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts’ $365 million pact with the Los Angeles Dodgers for biggest in baseball history.

Judge was offered a long-term deal by New York before last season that was worth $213.5 million over seven years from 2023-29. But he turned it down in the hours before opening day in April.

The 6-foot-7 Judge bet on himself — and won.

Judge set an American League record with 62 homers in 2022, powering the Yankees to the AL East title. He also tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs and just missed a Triple Crown with a .311 batting average.

New York was swept by Houston in the AL Championship Series, but Judge became the first AL MVP for the Yankees since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

Judge, 30, was selected by New York in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft and made his big league debut in 2016, homering in his first at-bat.

A year later, he was one of baseball’s breakout stars. He hit .284 with 52 homers and 114 RBIs in 2017, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. The four-time All-Star has 220 homers and 497 RBIs in seven big league seasons.