July 25, 2016

Partly cloudy

Indians: Perez in the middle of more controversy

CLEVELAND — Chris Perez says he’s just being Chris Perez. That guy isn’t making many friends around the American League these days — and he doesn’t really care.

The Indians fiery closer drew the ire of another opponent — Kansas City’s Jarrod Dyson — when after striking out Dyson in the ninth inning of an 8-5 victory Monday, Perez celebrated by flashing the John Cena “you can’t see me” sign in front of his face.

“It think it’s crazy for him to be doing that,” Dyson said prior to the second game of the series Tuesday at Progressive Field. “I don’t why he did it, but I think it was terrible. He did that like I was Albert Pujols he just struck out or something.

“I heard he (ticked) off a few guys. I guess that’s him being him. You can’t tell a guy how to go about their business. Whatever floats their boat. I can’t wait to face him again. Absolutely, that’s the good part of the game: You do something like that, you make the opposing team want you even more.”

Perez, who earned his major league-leading 17th straight save in the win Monday, was told of Dyson’s response before the game.

“It is what it is. If he took offense to it, oh well,” said Perez, who struck out Dyson looking on three pitches. “It’s the same thing if a hitter hits a home run. They come back to the dugout and do all their little hand-slapping (stuff). We see that as pitchers. We don’t take offense to it, because he hit a home run. I struck him out. If he didn’t want to see that face, he shouldn’t have talked crap to (Tony) Sipp.”

Perez said Sipp and Dyson, both from Mississippi, had dinner Sunday night, with Sipp relaying some words from Dyson to his bullpen mate.

“Dyson said their team’s coming for me because my comments that we could be the Royals or whatever,” Perez said. “So, I said, ‘All right. You’re coming for me. I’m coming for you. If I strike you out, you’re going to get the can’t see me face.’ That’s what happened, three pitches and you can’t see me.”

Dyson said he didn’t see Perez’s hand gesture until he returned to the clubhouse and watched a replay of the at-bat. He said he would have responded had he seen it live.

“Talking trash back and forth ain’t gonna get you nowhere until you beat somebody,” Dyson said. “When you beat them, you can talk all the trash you want. And it seems like that’s how it’s going with them on their side.”

Though Dyson said there was no history of bad blood between the two, Perez was fined $500 for a post on Twitter regarding a bench-clearing incident between the two teams in April. Perez also disparaged the Royals during his two-day rant about Cleveland fans, and angered White Sox outfielder Alex Rios with a final-out celebration in Chicago in early May.

Perez knows he is gaining a reputation as a confrontational closer, but doesn’t appear concerned.

“Every ninth inning, they’re trying to get me,” he said. “I play for my teammates. If they’re the only 25 guys in the league that like me, that’s fine. I’ve been doing this kind of stuff since college. You can interview some North Carolina guys that aren’t too happy with me still. That’s just how I am. It’s just having that back-against-the-wall mentality. I like having everybody against me.

“I’m in the middle of it. I’m having fun and I’m gonna ride it. In life in general, you may not be around tomorrow, so why not just enjoy it while it’s going on? I’m having fun and I’m going to let it show.”

Indians manager Manny Acta declined to discuss the Perez/Dyson incident, and downplayed the rivalry between the two young Central Division teams.

“I sense a rivalry against everybody I play,” Acta said. “I just want to beat them. I don’t care who they are. But we do have a lot of respect for those guys over there and what they’ve done over the last couple years. When it comes to rivalry, I don’t pick and choose. I want to beat everybody.”


Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.