CLEVELAND — Chris Perez and Indians fans are back in the news.
Perez, the fiery closer who upset fans with disparaging comments about them last season, deactivated his Twitter account Monday night. It is believed that Perez did so because he received abusive tweets from fans after allowing a go-ahead home run — his third homer in consecutive appearances — during a 10-8, 10-inning win over Seattle that afternoon.
The two-time All-Star issued a written statement prior to Tuesday’s series opener with Detroit that read:
“The decision to deactivate my Twitter account was a personal choice I made in order to maintain the greater focus on the success of the team this season and our shared goals moving forward. We have an extremely positive and supportive group of players, coaches staff members in our clubhouse and I want to participate in activities and routines that contribute positively to the culture we’re building here. Out of respect to my teammates, I want to minimize any potential off-the-field distractions so this is the only time I will comment on this topic. Thank you for your understanding.”
It was the first time in his career Perez (2-0, 2.25 ERA), who has converted six of eight save opportunities this season, has allowed homers in consecutive outings. Still, fans let him hear it on Twitter.
Manager Terry Francona supported his pitcher Tuesday.
“I understand his reasoning was to focus more on what we were doing, so I thought his thought process was real good,” Francona said.
First baseman Nick Swisher could miss the two-game series with Detroit after being placed on the Paternity List on Tuesday. Swisher’s wife, JoAnna Garcia, gave birth to the couple’s first child Tuesday — a baby girl.
To replace Swisher on the roster, the Indians recalled infielder/outfielder Cord Phelps from Triple-A Columbus.
At this point
Francona was not surprised to see his team recover from a slow start to the season. The Indians entered the year to optimism but lost 10 of their first 15 games.
“I think you find out more about your team when you’re losing,” Francona said. “We had some rough go there for a while early. We got blown out in some games, our starting pitching didn’t get us deep, but we weathered that.
“That’s what I took out. There wasn’t a lot of panic. We just held the course. We tried to assure people, ‘Hey, this is what we need to do and how we need to play and if we do that we’re gong to be OK.”’
Francona was not excited to face Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who entered Tuesday leading the American League in batting average (.387), RBIs (47), runs (34), hits (67) and total bases (114). Cabrera, the defending Triple Crown winner, also had 11 homers.
Francona was asked if there was one thing about Cabrera that impressed him the most.
“No, there’s a lot,” he said. “You go across the board. He hits the ball to all fields with power. He doesn’t strike out a lot. He fights the ball off, and if you make a mistake, he hits it 400 feet and he’s very intelligent. He watches the game, and if you are fortunate to get him out early, he can set you up late. He’s very aware of how the game is going and how you’re pitching him. He watches everything. He’s out there like he’s nonchalant and having fun. He’s a smart hitter.
“One thing he doesn’t do is run real good. If he did that, it would be a joke. It would be like a video game.”
Francona said the Indians would pitch around Cabrera on occasion, but would not walk him every time he comes to the plate.
“The hard thing about it is … I get how good he is … The problem with it is, there’s times you have to pitch to him,” Francona said. “There’s times you have to get him out. There’s times where you’ll take a single as opposed to keeping him in the ballpark because I guarantee you if you pitch around him all day, they’re going to score. You got (Prince) Fielder and Victor (Martinez), and if you put runners on base, they’re going to score.”
Cabrera has been a notorious Indians killer, entering the night batting .336 (127-for-378) with 27 homers and 85 RBIs against Cleveland.
Mark Reynolds entered Tuesday with just three hits in 29 at-bats (.103) over his last eight games. Through Monday, he was batting .190 in May.
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