CLEVELAND — In a year Roberto Perez has gone from having one of the worst experiences of his life to realizing his dream of making the majors.
With the Indians needing a backup catcher, Perez was called up from Columbus on Tuesday. Perez was having a breakthrough year with the Clippers less than a year after suffering from Bell’s Palsy, which is a sudden weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles. According to the Mayo Clinic, it affects 1 in 70 people in a lifetime.
Perez started to suffer from it shortly after being called up to the Clippers last June and was unable to close his left eye. He had to sleep with a towel on his face and ended up hitting just .172.
"Last year was tough for me. My face wasn’t right and I had problems seeing the ball," Perez said before the Indians took on the Yankees. "I’m just happy it started to get better during the offseason after getting treatment."
Perez, who was drafted in the 33rd round in 2008, was batting .305 this season with eight home runs and 43 RBI. He was also batting .412 with runners on base and .440 with runners in scoring position.
"This year is a new year and I’ve been enjoying it. I have my confidence back, I’m playing the game hard and good things are happening," he said.
After George Kottaras was designated for assignment on Sunday, Francona was hoping to get by with having Carlos Santana as the emergency backup, but after Santana jammed his shoulder while making a play at first on Monday, it was better to bring Perez up.
"He’s had a phenomenal year on offense and defense," Francona said. "At the beginning of the year it made sense to have George up here and get Perez the at-bats and develop him. Now he can help us."
To get Perez on the 40-man roster, the Indians also designated pitcher Mark Lowe for assignment.