CLEVELAND -- Utility man Ryan Raburn headed to his locker, just a few stalls down from that of right-hander Josh Tomlin, and grinned.
"It's the Little Cowboy!" Raburn said.
Tomlin rolled his eyes, knowing it will be a long time before he can shake the nickname that former Tribe manager Manny Acta bestowed upon him a few seasons ago. But Tomlin does not really mind the jabs, as long as they keep coming from within Cleveland's big league clubhouse, where he hopes to become a permanent resident again soon.
Come Wednesday, Tomlin will continue his rehab with a start for Double-A Akron, logging two innings or 35 pitches, whichever comes first. It will be his first time going beyond one inning on his comeback from Tommy John surgery, though his elbow has held up well throughout his return to games.
"It's been feeling great, it really has," Tomlin said. "I can't complain, by any means. It's been exciting."
The Indians have not ruled out having Tomlin return either later this month or in early September, as either a reliever or starter. Tomlin is being built up as a starter but noted that he can always transition back to a relief role if necessary.
Last season, Tomlin went 5-8 with a 6.36 ERA in 21 appearances, but his showing was marred by the elbow problems that led to surgery in August. In 2011 he went 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA in 21 games.
"He's doing really well," manager Terry Francona said. "It seems like everybody in that room is pulling for him. That's kind of neat. It'll be nice to have him back. When he gets back, it'll be nice to have him around, because I know the guys enjoy the heck out of him."
They certainly enjoy teasing him about the nickname.
Francona: Perez not required to address media
CLEVELAND -- Closer Chris Perez blew off reporters after blowing a save in a tough loss to the Tigers on Monday night. One day later, manager Terry Francona downplayed the fact that Perez left Progressive Field without making himself available to the media.
"Guys aren't forced to," Francona said on Tuesday. "In a perfect world, guys stand in front of their locker. Sometimes it's not a perfect world."
Perez, who made plenty of headlines last season for his outspokenness, has pulled a total reversal over the past several weeks. Since returning from the disabled list in late June, he has made it clear that he will no longer do on-the-record interviews with local reporters.
He held his ground when a group of media members approached his locker prior to Tuesday's game against Detroit.
"I'm not talking the rest of the year," Perez said. "Quit asking."
In the ninth inning of Monday's 4-2 loss, Perez surrendered four runs on three hits before being pulled by Francona without recording a single out. He had posted a 0.95 ERA, with 11 saves in as many chances, in his previous 18 games dating back to his return from an injured right shoulder on June 28.
On Monday he was pitching for the third day in a row, but Francona was not going to read too much into his pitcher's performance considering his strong run of late.
"C.P. blew a save last night," Francona said. "If I end up reinventing because of last night, I would have a hard time answering questions. I was disappointed we lost the game -- very disappointed. I wouldn't have done anything different. And I think, if you think it through, you'd probably come to the same conclusion."
Though a few of Perez's teammates expressed displeasure about his decision to leave the ballpark without taking responsibility for his performance, they did not want to be directly quoted, and Francona is not concerned that the issue would become a problem for the team.
"I don't think it's worrisome," Francona said. "I think those things with a team have a way of working themselves out -- and it doesn't necessarily have to be in public. I think that's where teams kind of come together and take care of team things."
As for speaking to reporters in general, Francona reiterated that it is not required.
"It's his personal choice," he said. "I think we try to foster an environment where -- good, bad, in between -- guys are accountable. Some guys choose to not talk. Like I said, it's not always a perfect world."
Brantley proud of his stellar defense
CLEVELAND -- When Torii Hunter ripped a pitch from Corey Kluber down the left-field line in the first inning on Monday, he looked to have a double. That was before left fielder Michael Brantley pulled off a defensive play he has seemingly mastered this season.
Brantley chased down the ball, gloved it and, in one smooth motion, spun and fired a perfect throw to second. Second baseman Jason Kipnis snared the relay and applied the tag on Hunter, ending Detroit's rally before it even started.
"I can't tell you how many rallies he seems to have averted," manager Terry Francona said. "He goes in the corner, he makes that throw and, if I'm a baserunner, I'm going, too, because it looks like a double. And then he throws it right on the money, and it's a one-hopper and it's like, boom, boom, you're out.
"Instead of a double and nobody out, we've got nobody on and one out. That's happened a lot of times."
Entering Tuesday's game, Brantley was tied with Chicago's Dayan Viciedo for the American League lead in assists by a left fielder, with 10, and only one behind the Major League leader, Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies. Among big leaguers with at least 70 starts in left, Brantley is one of just three (along with Kansas City's Alex Gordon and Baltimore's Nate McLouth) with no errors.
Brantley headed into Tuesday's action with a team-leading errorless streak of 201 games.
He is also one of just 13 Cleveland left fielders since 1921 to have at least 10 assists in one season. The last to accomplish the feat was Albert Belle, who had 11 assists from left field in 1996.
"I take pride in my defense," Brantley said. "I work hard each and every day to try to make it better. I made the adjustment from center to left, and going into that, I knew there'd be more opportunities to get balls off the wall and more opportunities to cut balls off and try to make solid throws to second.
"When you can just throw out one runner -- it doesn't matter how many I have right now -- just one helps the team out. It cuts down rallies."
Quote to note
"The last  outings, he had [11 saves] in a row. Now, all of a sudden, I'm getting asked about matching up in the ninth? That doesn't make a lot of sense. I think you maybe need to sometimes step back. He blew a save. Unfortunately, it hurts, but that's part of the game."
-- Francona, on closer Perez
• The Indians squared off against former American League Cy Young Award-winner Justin Verlander on Tuesday. Entering the game, past Cy Young recipients had gone a combined 4-8 with a 6.82 ERA (52 earned runs in 68 2/3 innings) in 12 games against Cleveland this season. Verlander gave up a run on Ryan Raburn's RBI groundout in the second inning.
• Monday night's game resulted in SportsTime Ohio's highest rating in six years, at 12.1. It was the No. 1 show of the night, beating "The Bachelorette" and "Under the Dome" locally.
• On Tuesday the Indians named High Class A Carolina outfielder Bryson Myles the organization's Player of the Week for July 29 to Aug. 5. Myles, 23, posted a .409 average with two doubles, one triple, three runs and three RBIs during that period and entered Tuesday riding a 17-game hitting streak.
• Double-A lefty Matt Packer, who was slated to start for the Aeros on Tuesday night, had allowed no more than two earned runs in 14 of his past 16 appearances, going 10-2 with a 2.04 ERA over that span. During that stretch he also had 82 strikeouts against 22 walks.