Chris Perez has been the closer of the Cleveland Indians for the better part of the last three years. Even though Terry Francona came into the Indians locker room ready to make changes and create a winning team, he knew that the closer needed to remain the same. That made it even scarier when Perez had shoulder issues in late February. After taking all of the necessary precautions it looks like he will be ready for opening day after all.
Any time there are shoulder problems with a pitcher it is a significant worry. For an arm that goes through the torque of throwing a pitch in Major League Baseball, there is no such thing as minor soreness that shouldn’t be paid attention to when it is more than the normal amount. Perez, to his credit did exactly what he should have done.
He had been on the Team USA roster and was very proud to be there. However he recognized that while that was an honor for him, it was not his job. Perez did what he could to give himself the best chance to be ready to start the season as the closer for the Indians. Though he missed out on the WBC, he appears to be ready to go for opening day.
I think as good as the Indians are this season; Perez will look back on this spring and not regret missing the WBC one bit. It could be the difference in another great season closing for the Indians and a season shortened by serious or nagging injury. For Francona and the Indians, it must be refreshing to see their closer put his team before his personal desires. It certainly is for me.