CLEVELAND: Vinnie Pestano will continue to receive on-the-job training to become a closer as long as Chris Perez is sidelined with a shoulder ailment.
That sort of assignment would have been expected of Pestano until last weekend, when he gave up four runs in the eighth inning to take the loss against the Boston Red Sox.
Not long before that, Pestano had been shut down briefly with a sore elbow and during his outing in Boston, it was noted with some alarm that his fastball was traveling at the pedestrian rate of 88 miles per hour.
Pestano finished the Indians’ 5-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night, but gave up a leadoff home run before retiring the side.
His velocity improved to 90-91, but that still is a couple of miles per hour short of his norm.
“I think he’s getting better,” Indians manager Terry Francona said Thursday. “Each time he throws, I think he’s getting closer to being Vinnie. He has a little ways to go, but he’s such a competitor that he can get people out right now.”
In other words, velocity isn’t everything.
“If he gets more extension on his delivery — even if he doesn’t throw as hard as he did — it will improve his command,” Francona said.
The axiom about closers: Nobody knows if a reliever has the proper makeup to do the job until he tries it.
“I’ve worried about that part before, but not with Vinnie,” Francona said. “I like to think I know the makeup of my guys. But there have been some closers in the past that made the transformation, and I was a little surprised.
“The way someone competes is always important, but a closer is a special case.”
Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw are not near-term candidates to be setup men or closers, but their live arms put them in the category of potential back-end relievers.
“Those two guys are just about identical to me,” Francona said. “Both of them are different, but they can do the same things. Cody flew through the system, and you can see why. Bryan likes the ball every day. He gets the ball and fires it. Guys like that.
“The scout who found Cody should get a bonus for taking a guy that low in the draft [23rd round] who has his ability.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at https://ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.