All signs are pointing toward Chris Perez being available for Opening Day.
Perez, who has been sidelined since suffering a strained right oblique on April 24, threw 20 pitches Wednesday in a simulated game without incident and has now been cleared for game action. According to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, the Indians’ closer will pitch in a minor league game tomorrow.
The goal appears to be to break him against lesser competition in a more casual environment before he makes his Cactus League debut. He should only need a handful of appearances to get ready for the start of the season.
Perez, 26, posted a 3.32 ERA and 39/26 K/BB ratio over 59 2/3 innings last season while saving 36 games in 40 chances. While it was a quality year on the surface, which included his first All-Star appearance, his strikeout rate dropped to an alarming 5.88 K/9 and he posted a 4.44 ERA during the second half.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts met the media in Mesa, Arizona today and said a couple of things that were fun.
First, he addressed the controversy that arose earlier this month when emails of his father’s — family patriarch Joe Ricketts — were leaked, showing him forwarding and approvingly commenting on racist jokes. Ricketts apologized for those serving as a “distraction” for the Cubs which, OK. He also said “Those aren’t the values our family was raised with… I never heard my father say anything remotely racist.” If you choose to believe that a 77-year-old conservative guy who loves racist emails — who once spearheaded an anti-Obama ad campaign that required a “literate African-American” as its spokesman — hasn’t said racist stuff a-plenty, that’s between you and your credulity.
More relevant to the 2019 Cubs is this:
The Cubs aren’t in the same position as some other contenders in that (a) they don’t have a cheap payroll; and (b) are not obvious candidates for the big free agents like Harper or Machado, but I still find that comment pretty rich for an owner of one of baseball’s marquee franchises in a non-salary cap league. If nothing else, it’s an admission by Ricketts that he, like the other owners, consider the Luxury Tax to be a defacto salary cap.