NEW YORK: Chris Perez was the talk of Cleveland again Tuesday after his comments to a New York Times reporter filtered back to Northeast Ohio.
The Indians’ closer reiterated what he said several weeks ago concerning the fan support at Progressive Field and added a new twist about the Browns, by way of contrast.
“The last three or four homestands have been great for us,” he said, responding to the Times story. “The reaction [in Cleveland] was all out of proportion. I didn’t want to do that [criticize the fans] again. Unfortunately this month we only played nine home games. But in July we play a lot at home, and I know the fans will be there.”
How did Perez know fans in Northeast Ohio were paying attention to his remarks on Monday? He saw the messages on Twitter and was told he was a hot topic on radio talk shows.
His opinions in the Times article included surprise that the Browns would still be big draw in the wake of more than a decade of losing seasons.
“That’s what I don’t understand,” Perez was quoted as saying. “Their whole thing is, ‘We want a winner.’ Well, do they support the Browns? They don’t win. They left. You guys blindly support them. I don’t understand it. It’s a double standard, and I don’t know why.”
Perez also reserved words for fans who root against LeBron James but don’t come out and cheer for the Tribe.
“I don’t get the psyche,” said Perez, who grew up in Florida and still lives in Tampa. “They cheer against a guy that’s not even in your city anymore? Just to see him fail? Does that make you feel good? I could see if the Cavs were in the championship, but that’s their mentality.”
Perez insisted he didn’t say anything in New York he hadn’t said before.
“The Browns is an old topic,” he said. “I talked about the quarterback situation a month ago. I guess fans took it as something else, because it was in the New York Times, but it was nothing new.”
Perez doesn’t believe in sugar-coating his opinions.
“When I’m asked a question, I’m not going to give a politically correct response unless it’s something I can’t talk about,” he said. “But I was surprised by the reaction.”
General Manager Chris Antonetti was asked if he would like Perez to quit talking.
“He’s on a competitive team that plays the game the right way in a beautiful ballpark; that’s where it comes from,” Antonetti said. “Sometimes I wish he would choose his words a little differently, but no, it’s coming from the right place.”
It was suggested to Perez that every time a controversial topic arises, he will become the go-to guy for the media.
“I don’t mind that,” he said, then paused and added, “I guess I do mind it. Everything turns into a story. Maybe I have to watch who I talk to.”
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.