Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wood out, Perez in (at least, for now)

When we did our Fantasy Baseball Weekly podcast focusing on relief pitchers (and catchers) last month, I mentioned that one of the set-up guys that I liked was Cleveland's Chris Perez for a couple of reasons.

With the possibility of the Indians being out of contention mid-season and with Wood in the last year of his contract, the Tribe could have easily unloaded Wood and his contract. In addition, there was the possibility that he would lose the job due to lack of performance or good health.

So, for the next six-to-eight weeks, it's the latter (lack of good health) that will create the opportunity for Perez.

Per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Wood has suffered a strained latissimus dorsi that will keep him out for up to eight weeks and put him on the disabled list for the 13th time in his career.

Lonnie Soloff, the Indians' head trainer, said, "If there is one positive, it's not his elbow or shoulder where he's experienced surgical issues in the past."

After the All-Star break last season, Wood converted eight of ten save opportunities, had an ERA of 2.96 and struck out 30 batters in 24 1/3 innings.

"[Wood's absence] won't be such a long time," [Indians GM Mark] Shapiro said, "and we feel Chris can handle the job in the interim. It will be an opportunity for him."

"It's a good audtion," Perez said. "It's a good way for the new coaching staff to get a look at me. I hope I take the ball and run with it and get off to a good start and help this team get off to a good start. I think that's one of the easiest ways to ruin a season right off the bat is to have the bullpen blow games."

Perez, who is only 24 years old, finished 2009 strong with an ERA of 3.10, a WHIP of 1.00 and batting average against of .184 after the All-Star break.

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