CLEVELAND – When the Indians open a three-game series in Kansas City on Tuesday, Kerry Wood will be their closer.
After watching Wood pitch for the second consecutive day Sunday, manager Manny Acta said the veteran right-hander would replace Chris Perez in the ninth-inning role.
Wood, who began the season on the disabled list after missing the majority of the exhibition season with a strained right lat muscle, made a disappointing debut Saturday – two (game-winning) runs on two hits and two walks in 2/3 of an inning.
He pitched better the second time around, retiring the only batter he faced Sunday, the dangerous Miguel Cabrera, on a pop up to end the seventh inning.
“I think today was the final test,” Acta said of Wood’s back-to-back outings.
Wood, who converted 20 of 26 save opportunities during his debut season in Cleveland last year, said he is ready
“I’m glad I feel good and healthy,” Wood said. “I’m happy with where I’m at.”
Perez, who converted four of six save opportunities but struggled at times while filling in for Wood, will return to the setup role.
According to Acta, Perez will have company in left-hander Tony Sipp, who has posted a 2.08 ERA in 15 games and has not allowed a run in his last nine appearances (nine innings). He struck out the side in the eighth inning Sunday.
“I think Tony has earned that right to be one of those guys we can trust at the end of the game,” Acta said.