Indians hope lefty Perez can return in 2012

Indians hope lefty Perez can return in 2012

Indians hope lefty Perez can return in 2012
CLEVELAND -- The Indians will need to decide whether to offer left-hander Rafael Perez a contract this winter, so it would benefit the club to see the reliever back on a mound before this season is in the books.

Perez's recovery from a strained left lat muscle, slowed by a handful of setbacks, has created doubt about his ability to rejoin Cleveland's bullpen before the end of the year. The Indians are still hopeful that he will be back some time in September.

"We'd love to see him," Indians manager Manny Acta said.

Perez, 30, sprained his right ankle during a Minor League rehab appearance with Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 11, and the lefty has yet to return to pitching off a mound. Perez has not pitched in a game for the Indians since April, when his lat injury forced the team to place him on the disabled list.

"He's still just nursing that sore ankle of his," Acta said. "Not until that's over with, is he going to be able to get back on the mound and compete."

In eight April outings, Perez posted a 3.52 ERA over 7 2/3 innings, displaying decreased velocity and spotty command. Perez went 11-3 with a 3.12 ERA over 141 appearances between 2010-11, but Cleveland does not want to rely solely on his past success when determining whether the pitcher still fits into plans for the future.

Perez, who is earning $2.005 million this year, will be eligible for arbitration for the final time this winter.

"I think it's important to see him," Acta said, "just to see how healthy he is and how he bounces back. Whether we make a decision [to offer him a contract] or not, you still have to be able to see him. You don't want to make a decision based on what you saw in [April]."