CLEVELAND: For the past few weeks, Chris Perez has let his arm do his talking.
A few weeks ago, Perez told two members of the local media that he no longer would be speaking to them, at least until the end of the season.
A week later, Perez announced that he would no longer entertain questions from anyone in the media. He didn’t explain why, though it probably has more to do with being charged with possession of marijuana than any issues about baseball.
Regardless, his silence hasn’t hurt his performance, but there were concerns about his right shoulder.
He was shut down in spring training from Feb. 27 to March 25 with shoulder pain that prevented him from pitching in the World Baseball Classic. Perez went on the disabled list May 27 – with soreness in a different area of the shoulder – and didn’t return until June 28.
Since then, Perez has been almost perfect. In 13 appearances, he has given up one run, nine hits and 11 walks, striking out eight for an ERA of 0.64. He also has succeeded in all eight of his save opportunities.
Before his stint on the DL, Perez had compiled a 4.32 ERA and saved six games in eight chances.
After Perez retired the Rangers in order in the ninth Saturday night to earn his 14th save, manager Terry Francona said: “I thought tonight was the best he’s pitched all year. I thought he came out with good velocity and command.’’
With only 58 games remaining on the schedule, it’s unlikely that Perez will get the opportunity to break his all-time best save total of 39, set last year. But he is well on his way to improving on his 2012 ERA of 3.59. Currently his ERA is 2.64, even with the uncharacteristic bad start.
This might be the last season that Perez closes for the Tribe. His current contract is worth $7.3 million, and he has the right to use the arbitration process to establish his salary next year.
That means if Perez finishes strong, his compensation for 2014 might rise to $10 million or beyond. That might be more than the Indians are willing to pay any relief pitcher.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.