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Perez recovers from shaky start

By Sheldon Published: August 24, 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo.: It's probably not a stretch to say that Chris Perez made one of the more memorable debuts in major-league history.

Two days after being acquired from the Cardinals on June 27, Perez made his first appearance for the Indians. With a small gathering of 15,000-plus watching closely at Progressive Field, Perez trotted onto the field in the ninth inning with his team trailing the White Sox 2-0.

Perez quickly got the crowd's attention by hitting Alexei Ramirez with a pitch. Then he homed in on Jermaine Dye and nailed him, too. Before you knew it, the bases were loaded with nobody out, as Perez walked Jim Thome.

When the inning was over the Tribe trailed 6-0 and Perez was the talk of the talk shows.

Thinking back on his nightmarish beginning, Perez said, ""My first couple of outings, I was trying to do too much. I wanted to show everybody I could help out in the bullpen. [ep
""I didn't realize it at first, but I was trying to throw 100 miles an hour, which I can't do. But I can throw 95. After that outing in Chicago I was thinking, "This isn't working.' '' [ep
That was two months ago. The way Perez has pitched since then, it seems longer. Erase that first outing from the data bank, and Perez has compiled a 1.08 earned-run average in 17 games, giving up two runs, nine hits and striking out 21 in 162/3 innings. [ep
In his past 15 appearances going into Monday night's game against the Royals, Perez has refused to allow a run, yielding only five hits in 151/3 innings. [ep
""After that Chicago outing, I figured I had one foot out the door,'' Perez said. ""I don't care who you are traded for, if you don't get guys out, you're out the door. So that streak has helped me a lot.'' [ep
Perez's new bosses, including manager Eric Wedge, aren't surprised by his success. He has a live arm and likes to get the ball. The hurdle he had to overcome was avoiding walks. [ep
""Something just clicked in the last month or two,'' Perez said. ""I've been zoning in on the target and hitting it. My mechanics feel good. I'm repeating my delivery. That's one of the things I struggled with last year.'' [ep
Perez became St. Louis' closer last August because of injuries and non performance of a couple of his bullpen brethren. When the season was over, he was told he would compete for the same job in spring training. But when Perez missed a couple of weeks in camp with a shoulder injury, his rivals passed him by. [ep
""I just feel like they thought I couldn't do the job,'' he said. ""In their defense, I wasn't pitching like this.'' [ep
Perez has not abandoned his ambition to be a closer. [ep
""That's the goal sometime in my career,'' he said. ""It's probably not going to be this year or next, because we have Kerry Wood. But that's what I'm shooting for.'' [ep
LEWIS SHUT DOWN -- After making one start at Columbus, left-hander Scott Lewis complained of pain in his left arm and was placed on the minor-league (seven-day) disabled list. [ep
""We don't have all the information yet,'' Indians head trainer Lonnie Soloff said. ""But it's on the outside of the left elbow or forearm. We expect him to pitch again before the end of the season.'' [ep
Lewis was not sent back to Cleveland for a medical examination. Rather he was checked out by the Clippers' team doctor. [ep
In spring training, Lewis won a competition to become the Tribe's No. 5 starter, but he has missed almost the entire year with an elbow injury (apparently different than his current problem). [ep
WAITING HIS TURN -- Matt LaPorta is still waiting to play first base. [ep
""He worked out there today,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""I want to get more reps for him before I put him out there.''' [ep
When LaPorta was summoned from Columbus last week, he was expected to play left field and first. So far, he has appeared only in left, the position he is more familiar with. [ep
KUDOS -- Left-hander Nick Hagadone, acquired from Boston in the Vidctor Martinez deal, has been named South Atlantic Pitcher of the Week. [ep
In two appearances for Lake County, Hagadone pitched six scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk, while striking out 10. Opposing hitters were 1-for-18 against him. [ep
IN A RUSH -- The Tribe probably won't wait until Columbus' season is over (Sept. 7) before calling up players. The Clippers are far out of the race for a postseason berth. [ep
""We might call up one or two guys before then,'' Wedge said. [ep
Teams can expand their big-league rosters to 40 beginning Sept. 1. [ep
FARM FACTS -- Hector Rondon gave up one run and eight hits in seven innings, lowering his ERA to 2.68, as Columbus defeated Indianapolis 2-1. *elip Casey Frawley had four hits and Jason Kipnis had two, including a double, as Mahoning Valley beat Auburn 7-3. [ep

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