When Indians closer Chris Perez suffered a strained left oblique on February 24 — during his first bullpen session of the spring — the general belief was that he would be inactive at the beginning of the regular season. But Perez has defied the odds, and should be ready for a save opportunity on Opening Day.
According to beat writer Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, Perez tossed 20 pitches of live batting practice Wednesday afternoon in Indians camp, reporting no lingering pain or discomfort on the left side of his body. If he wakes up feeling normal on Thursday morning, the right-hander could be cleared to make his Cactus League debut on Friday or Saturday.
As a reliever, he only needs a handful of spring innings to get properly tuned up for regular-season action.
Perez, 26, registered a cool 3.32 ERA and 1.21 WHIP across 59 2/3 innings last year for Cleveland, collecting 36 saves in 40 opportunities. He carries a 3.13 career ERA, a 1.19 career WHIP and an 8.5 K/9.
Giants closer Hunter Strickland had an ugly top of the ninth inning Monday night against the Marlins. He allowed three runs, serving up a walk, a double, another walk, and two singles. The Marlins overcome a 4-2 deficit and went on to win 5-4.
Unhappy with his performance, Strickland punched a door and fractured his pitching hand. He will undergo surgery and will miss six to eight weeks, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports.
That’s a huge loss for the Giants, as Strickland has been terrific, Monday’s start notwithstanding. He carries a 2.84 ERA with 13 saves and a 29/13 K/BB ratio in 31 2/3 innings. Manager Bruce Bochy said Tony Watson or Sam Dyson will fill in at closer while Strickland is out, per Pavlovic.
Bochy said that he is “disappointed” and “crushed” about Strickland’s injury, noting that the right-hander had grown a lot as a pitcher and as a person, Pavlovic adds.
Strickland has a problem with anger, it appears. He exacted revenge on Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper last year, throwing a 98 MPH fastball at him, then punched him in the head when the two brawled. Strickland wanted revenge because, in the 2014 playoffs, Harper stared at a home run he hit off of Strickland.