CLEVELAND (AP) — Chris Perez isn’t ready to return to the mound for the Indians just yet.
Cleveland’s colorful closer, who has been dealing with personal issues off the field while recovering from a strained rotator cuff, will throw at least one more bullpen session and may make another rehab appearance in the minor leagues before coming off the disabled list.
Perez, who has been sidelined since May 27, had expected to be activated on Friday. But after giving up five earned runs — three homers — during a shaky one-inning outing on Tuesday night at Double-A Akron against Trenton, the Indians won’t rush him back.
Perez said his mechanics were out of whack, and after striking out the first batter he faced on three pitches, he struggled badly.
“Location, velocity, everything,” he said Wednesday night before the Indians hosted the Kansas City Royals. “I just didn’t feel like myself.”
Perez said he’s physically fine, and after watching video of this rehab outing, he thinks he can fix his mechanics.
“I feel good, just a little rusty,” Perez said in the Indians’ dugout after playing long toss and shagging balls during pregame batting practice. “We watched some video and we’ll make a mechanical adjustment that should help. I was opening up my leg a little early, so I was losing speed and location and movement.
“Hopefully I can iron that out in the next couple days.”
Perez will receive his usual treatment on Thursday, an off day for the Indians, and will pitch a bullpen session at Progressive Field on Friday before the Indians open a three-game series with Minnesota. The team will then re-evaluate the right-hander before deciding when to bring him off the DL.
Indians manager Terry Francona said Perez “probably” needs another minor league stint. But the right-hander wasn’t so sure he’ll need another tuneup.
“It’s not so much about facing guys as it is about getting my stuff back with mechanics,” Perez said. “Today, I played long toss on flat ground just to try to re-teach my body. I’ll do the same thing tomorrow and come back on Friday and we’ll talk after that.”
Perez said he was most concerned that his pitches didn’t have their usual movement.
“Even when I’m not throwing hard my ball still tails, but yesterday it was just straight, which is a little disconcerting to me,” he said. “But watching the video I could clearly see what the problem was. It all feels good.”
Francona said the Indians want to make sure Perez is near his two-time All-Star level before activating him.
“Mechanically I think he’s fighting it a little bit,” Francona said. “He understands when he comes in and pitches the ninth inning and the game is on the line that he needs to be in top form or pretty damn close to it. So we’re going to make sure we get him there.”
Earlier Wednesday, Perez had his court appearance for a drug charge moved to next month.
Perez and his wife, Melanie, recently pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor drug abuse after a package containing marijuana was delivered to their rental home in Rocky River, Ohio. Perez’s attorney, Terry Gilbert, said Wednesday that the two-time All-Star’s court appearance was waived. Perez is due in court on July 9.
Police said they were tipped off by postal inspectors to suspicious packages mailed to the Perez home and arranged a delivery under surveillance on June 4.