Indians’ closer Chris Perez has shoulder strain

The words “shoulder” and “strain” are always a little concerning when it comes to a pitcher, but the Cleveland Indians do not seem overly worried about Chris Perez.

Perez will be out of games for three to four weeks with the strain, but the team hopes he’s back for the season opener.

Technically, Perez has a subscapularis strain in his right shoulder.

The subscapularis is a triangular muscle in the chest, the largest muscle of the four that comprise the rotator cuff. The muscle is vital in movement across the chest, like pitching. Perez’s motion brings his arm across his body.

The diagnosis keeps the team’s closer from throwing for 10-to-14 days, then returning to throwing when he is symptom-free and hopefully to games in three or four weeks.

“The longer he’s down, the longer he’s not throwing, the longer it will take him on the back end to get him back,” GM Chris Antonetti said in audio provided by the team. “The shorter he’s down, the shorter the time frame to get him back to game activity.”

That could mean Perez will be ready for the season opener on April 2 in Toronto, but he will miss the World Baseball Classic, which he was going to join in two days. Perez missed a good part of spring training a year ago with an oblique strain, but was ready for the start of the season. The Indians are not giving up on him being ready this season, either.

Perez is a key to the Indians bullpen, which is a team strength. He had 39 saves last season, 98 the past three. With him closing and Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith doing set-up work, the Indians have one of the better bullpens in the American League.
Any long-term injury to any of the three but especially Perez could throw that balance off. The Indians bullpen is expected to help compensate for a starting staff that has question marks.

Perez, though, shrugged off the strain, posting “this (too) shall pass” on his Twitter timeline.

“Small hurdle at an inopportune time,” he wrote. “I feel better now than I did last year with the oblique. Still plenty of time.”

He did not address the media on Friday.

Antonetti was not ready to even discuss who might be the closer if Perez can’t pitch.
“We have a few weeks to work through it,” Antonetti said. “I’m still hopeful it’ll be Chris. He was going to be away from camp anyway (in the WBC) for a few weeks and not pitching in games for us and other guys were going to get some opportunities to pitch. That now will happen, just with a different set of circumstances for Chris.”