Perez locking things down in Indians' bullpen
Right-hander enjoying success since return from stint on disabled list
CLEVELAND -- Chris Perez has basically been a model closer since coming off the disabled list on June 27.
With the Tribe holding a two-run lead on Saturday night against the Royals, Perez entered in the ninth inning and used 12 pitches to retire David Lough, Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar, the last of whom looked at a 92-mph fastball for strike three to end a 5-3 Tribe win.
In 10 outings since his return from right shoulder inflammation -- including his 13th save in the Indians' 6-4 win over the Royals on Sunday -- Perez is 7-for-7 in save opportunities and owns a 0.90 ERA. He has issued three walks with eight strikeouts, with the lone run on Thursday, when the Tribe held a three-run lead against the Blue Jays.
"I think he's really staying down in the zone extremely well," Indians manager Terry Francona said after Saturday's win. "When they hit the ball, you're not getting it in the air with much authority. He looks really good. He's pitched, I think, six out of eight days [before Sunday]. He's done a really good job."
Since throwing a scoreless inning during the Tribe's 9-4 loss to Detroit on July 6, Perez has made seven appearances in a span of nine days. Excluding the long hair and thick beard, the closer has lately borne little resemblance to the pitcher who gave up four runs in two-thirds of an inning on May 26 at Fenway Park.
Perez went on the 15-day disabled list the next day, which seemed to explain why the veteran had posted a 13.50 ERA in the five-outing stretch that ended with the meltdown in Boston. Shoulder discomfort resulted in a shortened Spring Training for Perez, as well, and Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said the two injuries have combined to make this season challenging for the closer.
But Perez appears to be healthy now, and his recent performances are improving his season numbers. Across 26 2/3 innings over 27 games, he has a 3.04 ERA and 13 saves in 15 opportunities. Perez also has 26 strikeouts and 13 walks, while posting a 1.35 WHIP and keeping opponents to a .225 batting average.
"Right now, he's only at 25 innings and just almost kind of getting his feet wet," Callaway said before Sunday's finale of the first half. "This is the first time he's been out there consistently. I think it's starting to show up. His command's back. He's locating down in the zone. He's been really solid. It's good to have him back."
McAllister pleased with his first rehab outing
CLEVELAND -- The first Minor League rehab outing is typically a big step in a player's recovery process.
On the 15-day disabled list since June 3, Indians right-hander Zach McAllister made his first rehab appearance on Saturday with Double-A Akron, where he threw 61 pitches over 3 1/3 innings. McAllister -- who has dealt with a right middle finger sprain -- was charged with four hits and two runs, while striking out five and walking one.
"I was pleased with it. Finger felt fine," McAllister said on Sunday. "That was the most important thing. I felt my command for the most part was OK. Obviously, it's the first time facing hitters in a game situation. So, I had that adrenaline and [was] probably a little amped up a little bit. But I was happy with it."
McAllister did not throw any curveballs in the outing. That pitch has been the most problematic for McAllister's ailing finger, though he plans to implement breaking balls in a bullpen session and his next rehab appearance, scheduled for Thursday.
In 11 outings for the Tribe, McAllister is 4-5 with a 3.43 ERA. The righty has 45 strikeouts and 22 walks over 65 2/3 innings. Cleveland has been cautious with McAllister, but if everything continues to progress, he could pitch for the Tribe on July 23 in Seattle.
"I'm going to do all I can to perform and pitch well and make sure my finger feels good, and do what I can to get back here," McAllister said.
Tribe's post-break rotation starts with Kazmir
CLEVELAND -- When the All-Star festivities conclude and it's time for regular-season baseball to resume, Scott Kazmir will take the ball for the Indians.
The Tribe announced on Sunday how the starting rotation will look following the four-day break. Kazmir is scheduled to start on Friday in Minnesota, with Corey Kluber pitching on Saturday and first-time All-Star Justin Masterson set to throw on Sunday. It will be Ubaldo Jimenez's turn the next day in Seattle, with the fifth spot still undetermined.
"It was really just more of matchups for everybody going through for the first 15 days or so," pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "No huge rhyme or reason."
Originally, Cleveland planned to have Masterson make the first start after the break. But if he pitches in Tuesday's All-Star Game, Masterson would have just two days of rest before that outing. The Indians didn't want Friday's starter to be decided by whether Masterson takes the mound in New York, so they pushed him back to Sunday, when he'd have four days' rest if he appears in the Midsummer Classic.
"Just trying to give him a little blow during the All-Star break and just get him to where [he's facing] the teams we want him to face," Callaway said.
The Indians would prefer that Zach McAllister can resume a regular spot in the rotation after the break, which he had done in the first half before going on the 15-day disabled list on June 3 with a right middle finger sprain. McAllister made a rehab start on Saturday for Double-A Akron, with another outing scheduled for Thursday.
"If he keeps up his current pace, we're hoping that that spot's there for him," Callaway said. "Obviously, when you're coming back from an injury, you don't know, so it's tough to really say. But, we're hoping that that's him."
Quote to note
"I think actually the timing was probably pretty good. I think he admitted that it was probably good for him to be able to take a breather and kind of get his swing together and everything. I don't think there was any worry about him [sulking]."
-- manager Terry Francona on Lonnie Chisenhall, who was demoted to Triple-A earlier in the year, but has hit .292 with 14 RBIs and three home runs since his return to Cleveland.
• Brett Myers, on the 60-day disabled list with right elbow tendinitis and a mild UCL sprain, is still a long ways off from rejoining the Indians this season.
"Right now, he's just trying to get his arm feeling right and start throwing off the mound again," Callaway said. "Hopefully, he'll be throwing off the mound by the time the All-Star break's done, and then we'll just play it by ear."
Myers last pitched for the Tribe on April 19. In just four outings (three starts), he's 0-3 with an 8.02 ERA. In January, Cleveland inked Myers to a one-year, $7 million deal that included a team option in 2014 worth $8 million.
• Trevor Bauer, the organization's top pitching prospect, was scratched from his Saturday start for Triple-A Columbus because of lower back spasms. The right-hander has made four starts for Cleveland this season, going 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA.
• Mark Reynolds wasn't in Sunday's lineup for the second game in a row. Manager Terry Francona, who was unavailable before the series finale against the Royals, had said a day earlier that Reynolds would probably start on Sunday. In his last 11 games, Reynolds is batting .081 (3-for-37) with zero home runs.
• Entering Sunday, the Tribe's starters posted a 1.81 ERA over the last seven games. As a whole, the staff had gone 51 innings without allowing a home run.
• The Indians announced on Sunday that right-hander Blake Wood was recalled from his 30-day rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus, activated from the 60-day disabled list, and optioned to the Clippers. Cleveland also outrighted catcher Omir Santos to the Columbus.
Wood, 27, is recovering from Tommy John surgery performed in May 2012. In 15 Minor League games (six starts) this season, he is 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.