CLEVELAND: Indians manager Terry Francona knows what fans want him to do when it comes to the next close game in the ninth inning.
But he’s not going to do it.
Francona insisted Wednesday that he still has plenty of confidence in embattled closer Chris Perez (5-3 with a 3.71 ERA and 25 saves), who gave up two homers in a blown save Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox.
“Can you imagine if every time somebody gave up a home run, we just automatically went to somebody else?” Francona said. “We wouldn’t have a team left. … I wouldn’t want to play for that guy. If there’s ever a situation where I think we can do better, I would certainly do that. But you can’t just be reactionary as a manager or you have turmoil in that clubhouse. There’s times when you feel like you need to make changes, but if you react to one game or an inning, you can upset a lot of what’s so good in there.”
Besides, Francona said he’s seen recent improvement from Perez, even though he’s the only current closer in the majors to have given up seven homers in save situations.
“I actually think the last month, he’s thrown the ball pretty well,” Francona said. “You watch how it’s coming out of his hand. He’s had a pretty good breaking ball. He’s created some situations like bases loaded, nobody out and pitch[ed] out of it. That’s there. Now, the consistency part hasn’t necessarily been quite what we hoped for.”
Pressed further about concern for Perez’s mental well-being if he has to endure the wrath of fans, like those who booed him loudly Tuesday as he made the lonely walk from the mound to the dugout, Francona just shrugged.
“He’s a big boy,” Francona said. “If he gets them out, they won’t be booing.”
MORE LOVE FOR G — The Indians were still talking about the exciting end to Tuesday’s game after slugger Jason Giambi rescued the team with a walk-off, pinch-hit, two-run homer.
“Pretty special,” Francona said. “It was something that I’ll savor and I’m glad I was able to be sitting in the dugout watching it. Because G has become so important to so many people in our organization that it’s a blessing that we signed him. He has been as instrumental in us moving forward as anybody, and probably more so than anybody. That’s a lot of praise for a guy that’s got 190 at-bats.”
NO SELLOUT YET — An Indians official said tickets sales have gone well for possible upcoming playoff games at Progressive Field if the team makes the postseason, but seats had not sold out as of Wednesday.
— Stephanie Storm