Chris Perez breezes through Cactus League debut

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Indians closer Chris Perez enjoyed a silky smooth Cactus League debut on Thursday, throwing just five pitches in a hitless inning against the Rockies.

MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian has the full report.

Perez missed most of spring training after suffering a left oblique strain during a late-February bullpen session. But he pitched in two minor league games before Thursday’s debut and is scheduled to make two more Cactus League appearances before the Indians head north next week. The bearded 26-year-old should be completely up to speed by Opening Day.

Perez registered a cool 3.32 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 59 2/3 innings last season while tallying 36 saves.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.