GOODYEAR, Ariz.: Manager Terry Francona heard the stories about closer Chris Perez expressing strong opinions about Indians fans and other topics, but he has not been moved to address the issue.
“I read it,” Francona said. “I talked to him, but that was to get to know him. That never even came up, and I don’t expect it to again. I didn’t have any different talk with him than I had with anyone else.”
Perez famously called out the fans for not showing up when the Tribe was riding high in the standings last year. He took time to rip owners Paul and Larry Dolan, the front office for failing to make certain trades and Browns fans. He also took on the Kansas City Royals in a tweet after a bench-clearing incident.
How will Francona deal with further expressions of opinion (if there are any) by Perez?
“I don’t have a pat answer,” Francona said. “That’s why I want to get to know these guys. When you do that, you find ways to handle things.”
When Tribe pitchers began throwing batting practice earlier this week, catchers began giving pitch signs. In the past, pitchers would indicate by hand signal what pitch they were throwing.
“It’s more like a game situation,” Francona said. “We aren’t playing intrasquad games, so we try to find other ways to kind of simulate games. That’s the way pitchers really pitch, so it seems to make sense.”
Unless Scott Kazmir wins a spot in the rotation, the Tribe will not have a left-handed starter, which doesn’t bother Francona.
“I’d rather have a good pitcher than a lefty or a righty,” Francona said. “The idea is to have a guy who gets batters out. A left-hander would be nice, but I’d rather take the best pitcher.”
Francona doesn’t want to use his position players for extended innings early in exhibition season, but the Tribe has a split squad day on Sunday.
“We’ll play everybody three innings [today] and the same guys for three innings Saturday,” Francona said. “On the split-squad day, we’ll have to dig deep into the minor-league camp for guys we have here now. I don’t want our [position players] to go too deep too quickly.”
CF — Michael Bourn
SS — Asdrubal Cabrera
2B — Jason Kipnis
1B — Nick Swisher
LF — Michael Brantley
C — Carlos Santana
DH — Mark Reynolds
3B — Lonnie Chisenhall
RF — Drew Stubbs
The Indians open the exhibition season today against the Cincinnati Reds.
Giovanni Soto will start for the Tribe and be followed by Vinnie Pestano, Joe Martinez, Rich Hill, Matt Langwell, Fernando Nieve and Frank Herrmann. Tony Cingrani will start for the Reds.
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