New Dodger Chris Perez on Indians: ‘No hard feelings’

Chris PerezThe biggest change for the Indians this offseason is in the bullpen, with turnover related to 45% of the team’s relief appearances from a year ago.

The most recognizable departure, of course, is former closer Chris Perez. He was quickly released on Oct. 31 and was signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Dec. 21.

In comments to Ken Gurnick, oft-criticized1 Dodgers beat writer for MLB.com, Perez discusses his feelings toward the Indians, this offseason and his 2013 injuries. Here are the interesting quotes from this Spring Training report:

He said — and he’s shown so far in a few impressive bullpen sessions — that he’s healthy.

“Last year was a learning experience, and I learned I can’t pitch through [injuries],” Perez said. “I felt I had to stay out there. I feel a lot better now. I feel I can pitch back to that [All-Star] level. But I’ve still got to show it. I’m excited for the games to start. I’ve got a little chip on my shoulder. I’ve got something to prove.”

He even thanked the Indians for releasing him quickly, giving him extra time to find a new home.

“No hard feelings,” he said. “I understand why they did what they did. They could have non-tendered me much later.”

Perez, who turns 29 in July, had a 3.73 ERA in his final three seasons with the Tribe. His best season was 2010 where he saved only 27 games, but had a 1.71 ERA. It’s certainly possible he could revert to that form — or, much more likely, the production of a decent middle reliever.

Also this offseason, Joe Smith signed with the Los Angeles Angels and Matt Albers signed with the Houston Astros.

To replace this lost production, the Indians have most notably signed new closer John Axford. They traded away Drew Stubbs for lefty Josh Outman. They’ve also reached small deals with a number of other relievers, including David Aardsma, Scott Atchison, Matt Capps and Mike Zagurski.

[Related: The Diff: Reviewing Indians pitching moves this offseason]

Photo: John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer

  1. If you recall, Gurnick was the one Hall of Fame voter who selected Jack Morris and no one else. []

  • Steve

    I have a strong suspicion that he’s going to have some solid numbers, pitching in the the NL and in that spacious park. I wonder if Cleveland fans can dig deep enough to complain about letting even Perez go.

  • CP

    People rip on Perez, but I liked him when he was here and I still like him now. He struggled at times, but he was the best closer we’ve had since Mesa, and it’s not even close.

    Plus, he was always an exciting player to watch who was very passionate about the game. I’m a diehard tribe and baseball fan, but I have to admit, 162 games is a lot. Having someone like Perez kept things interesting.

    I also appreciate that he called out fans for blindly following the Browns while the Indians have been a much better franchise. Hopefully the year after the playoff run will yield a better attendance figure.

  • Steve

    All those downvotes, and nary even one point of contention. Otherwise known as the biggest issue this site has.

  • Return of the (Alex) Mack

    Body Perez already has a medical marijuana card

  • CB Everett

    I don’t doubt he could rebound (the environment you described, plus he’s on a one year deal with the incentive to bounce back). That said, I’m not sure even if he “kills it” in middle relief, anyone is going to rue the day we didn’t bring him back. Everyone needed to part ways–I don’t think that was ever in doubt.

    Here’s an upvote…after all it’s Friday.

  • Jason Hurley

    I’ll respond from my perspective: I agree with you on your suspicion. I suspect that your downvotes are as a result of dumping on people preemptively, seeing if they can “dig deep enough to complain about letting even Perez go.” I didn’t even downvote you.

  • mgbode

    Steve, I like that you are not afraid to post your viewpoints even when they are contrary to popular opinion. But, if you ask for downvotes, then you will receive downvotes. And, putting a dig in at a vague Cleveland fan strawman is definitely asking for downvotes:

    full disclosure: none of those downvotes are from me.

  • Wow

    What is there to debate, look at his numbers. He got worse as the seasons went on to the point he told Tito that he can’t be closer anymore.

  • EyesAbove

    Despite what happened at the end of 2013, I wish him well. Glad to see that he’s taking the high road regarding his time in Cleveland. I was half expecting him to bash the fans and the FO once he signed with another team.

  • Steve

    I have no problem with the downvotes, as long as they come with a response. The “I don’t like what he has to say, but I can’t be bothered to defend my opinion” attitude can spring up around here.

    And that wasn’t vague, and certainly no strawman. I have no problem saying it, because it annoys the hell out of me, Cleveland has some of the whiniest fans in the world. We can get really pathetic. I’m excited for the same people who killed the Indians for having Ubaldo for 2+ years to kill them when they don’t re-sign him and commit to him for another 3+ years.