Former Indians closer Chris Perez hadn’t spoken to the media since late June when he got upset over reports detailing his arrest on a misdememanor drug charge.
As late as Friday, Perez still refused to budge on his stance when a group of four reporters approached him in the visitor’s locker room at Target Field and asked if he’d reconsider.
“Nope” was all the right-hander would mutter a day after being relieved of his closing duties.
Perhaps it was all the Champagne being sprayed and/or maybe all the beer that’d been flowing. But as the Indians post-game celebration was winding down early Sunday evening following the team’s 10th consecutive victory that clinched an American League Wild Card berth, Perez finally offered to unzip his lips.
“I’ll talk now,” he offered when a group of reporters passed him in a hallway outside of the clubhouse.
In short, Perez said the playoffs are no time for egos. He said he’s not hurt and is instead just working through mechanical issues.
Here’s the entire nine-minute question and answer exchange from Minneapolis:
On making the postseason:
“You can't put this feeling into words, especially after what happened last year. It started in spring training. We had a good rapport with each other. We had the Harlem Shake video.
“I think you have to give tons of credit to our front office. They made some smart signings and really good trade: Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles.
“Me personally, I could care less how I've played this year. We got our goal. We finished one game behind Detroit. We got a great group of guys.”
Did you see this coming?:
“Yes and no. I don't think you could have predicted we were going to win 92 games early in the season. We had a lot of question marks coming in. How were we going to jell?
“I think you could see it after the All-Star break. We came here and lost two out of three. We went to Seattle and lost two out of three. That kind of woke us up. We said, ‘It’s right there. All we have to do is play our game.
”We’re a team. We don't have one guy we rely on. We've had different guys step up all year. We've had injuries at almost every position - Me, Cabby (Asdrubal Cabrera), (Justin) Masterson, (Corey) Kluber, (Zach) McAllister, Bournie (Michael Bourn), (Nick) Swisher missed some time with his shoulder. We have a good group of guys and the way Tito (Terry Francona) has used them everybody has contributed. It's been a magical year.
Where are you at pitching wise?:
“I'm in slump. It came at the worst time of the year. If this would have happened in April or May, it would suck, but it would be under the radar. Games are magnified in September, especially when you’re in it, all I can do is work at it.
“Physically, I’m good. It's just a little mechanical adjustment I need to make. I threw a bullpen today, my first step getting back, and I felt good. I've had a rough couple of months, but you can't pick when it's going to happen. This game can humble you fast. I still feel I can contribute to this team. I know I'm going to. It’s terrible when it happens late in the year and you're in it.
“I haven't given up. I don’t know if (I'll pitch) in the fifth inning or the seventh inning, whatever, but I'm going to help the team. At this time of year, especially when you’re in it, you toss your ego aside.
“I've had a pretty good 5 1/2 year run. I'm not going to re-invent the wheel. I'm not come in and throw sidearm like Smitty (Joe Smith). I'm not going to throw a knuckle ball. It's bee an unfortunate year for me personally with the injury and the off-the-field issue, it's just been one of those years. I'm here to help the team.
“I went into Tito's office the other night and said, ‘I'm not going to cost this team a playoff spot. You need to make a change right now. You got four or five guys who are throwing the crap out of the ball. I don't have an ego. Make the change.’ And he did.
“Fans asked me at the start of the year about what my goals are. I told them I’d take 20 saves if we could make the playoffs. We made the playoffs and I've got 25 saves.
“The new guys don’t know what it was like to go through what we went through. This has been magical. Except for our wives, I don't think anyone thought we'd win 92 games and finish a game behind Detroit.
“It's night and day. It's amazing how it can happen, but it happened. Again you have to give credit to the front office and Tito. I can't say enough about what Tito does to this team. The last week it feels like it's May or June. It doesn't feel like its September and we’re a game out or a game ahead.
“You have to credit guys that came over, they all had playoff experience. Even the little move like Marc Rzepczynski. He’s been in the World Series and the NLCS. The guys that have been there have a calm about themselves and it rubs off.
“We've got huge contributions from young guys: Cody Allen, Kluber, (Danny) Salazar, McAllister. You could go down the line. Everybody on this team has helped us get to this point.”
Why talk today?:
“It's the end of the year. I told you I wouldn't talk to the end of the year. A lot of stuff has happened to me this year. I told my wife I wouldn't talk until the end of the year, good or bad. A lot stuff has happened to me on this road trip. It doesn’t matter.
“There were sometimes this year that stuff was written that wasn't accurate. Or somebody was making assumptions. I would have liked to talk to set the record straight, but I made a decision and stuck by it.
“It was time to just focus on baseball. I had a good run, now I’m in a slump, but it doesn't change who I am or what I think to the team or what kind of person I am. Like I said a lot of stuff has been written this year.
“It’s a mechanical thing. I started the year on the Disabled List, I rushed back and I think from day one I've been fighting my mechanics. I been low, high, I can't find my natural slots. I'm going to try and best as I can to get ready for the playoffs and help this team, but the off season is going to be good for me.
“You can’t pick when it's going to happen, but it happens. Look at Ubaldo (Jimenez). Last year he was fighting his mechanics. He found them and he’s been dominate the last two to three months. You can't touch him.”
Off the field affect you?:
“No, not at all. The stuff off the field, is off the field, when you walk through the locker room doors, except for you family, you don’t think about anything else that happened. You worry about getting ready for that game and helping the team win.
It's not like I was out there in the ninth inning figuring out what was going to happen in my court case next week. You don’t think about that. You go out and try to do your job and live with the result.”