08/08/12 6:15 PM ET
Tribe releases oft-injured Knapp, key piece in Lee deal
By Justin Albers / MLB.com
The Tribe released right-handed pitcher Jason Knapp on Wednesday, a player Cleveland got from the Phillies in the 2009 blockbuster Trade Deadline deal involving Lee.
Knapp, 20, had two operations on his throwing shoulder, and he hadn't pitched in a game in more than two years. Knapp pitched at the team's year-round training facility in Goodyear, Ariz., after the first surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2009, but he continued to feel discomfort in the shoulder and had to be reevaluated last summer.
Knapp underwent the second operation last June after leading Class A Lake County to the Midwest League championship series in 2010. He had been having regular checks with Dr. David Altchek, but hadn't even been throwing recently.
"It got to the point where that was the best route," said Indians general manager Chris Antonetti. "We obviously tried the rehab route with him a number of times. Jason, to this point, has been unable to get on a mound or get to a point where he's comfortable pitching consistently."
Knapp was a second-round pick of the Phillies in 2008. He had a 3.63 ERA in 156 1/3 career Minor League innings, with 208 strikeouts and only 71 walks.
The Indians also received pitcher Carlos Carrasco, catcher Lou Marson and infielder Jason Donald in the Lee deal. Carrasco is currently rehabbing an elbow injury, and the team expects him to be ready for Spring Training next year. Marson is hitting .244 with nine RBIs in 45 games for the Indians this season, and Donald is currently playing at Triple-A Columbus.
Tribe closer Perez not down after blown saves
CLEVELAND -- After Chris Perez blew his second consecutive save for the Indians on Tuesday night, the closer said he may need to look at video to solve his recent problems.
On Wednesday, he dismissed the idea.
"I still haven't watched video," Perez said. "I don't need to, because I know it's just minor, nothing major. If I was throwing stuff to the backstop and hitting guys, that's a major mechanical issue. ... It's just little things that are painful."
Perez met with pitching coach Scott Radinsky in the clubhouse on Wednesday morning, and the two discussed the possibility that the All-Star closer has been tipping his pitches. Perez allowed three runs in Cleveland's 7-5 loss to the Twins on Tuesday, and he gave up five runs with two outs in a 10-8 extra-inning loss to the Tigers on Sunday.
Perez had converted 29 of his first 31 save opportunities.
"I just keep opening up to hitters, and they're seeing the ball really well, obviously," Perez said. "I felt good last night. The one in Detroit -- that's [a] lack of concentration, that's something."
Perez struck out Joe Mauer to begin the ninth inning Tuesday, but then the struggles began. Josh Willingham muscled a single to right field, stole second and scored after an error by first baseman Casey Kotchman on a ball hit by Justin Morneau.
Perez wasn't upset with Kotchman because it was a tough play, but Perez was upset with himself for letting Willingham steal second.
"I was more mad I didn't hold the runner better, honestly," Perez said. "If I would have held him better, Kotchman's [covering] on first, [and] that might be a one-hop right to him instead of getting that second hop, and it might be a double play."
Still, even amid his recent blown saves and the team's 11-game losing streak, Perez seemed in good spirits on Wednesday. Manager Manny Acta walked through the clubhouse, patted his closer on the back and told him to keep his head up. Perez had a simple response.
"I just want to get back out there," he said.
Hafner to undergo MRI on ailing back
CLEVELAND -- Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner missed his third consecutive game with back stiffness Wednesday against the Twins. Manager Manny Acta said Hafner was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his back sometime Wednesday afternoon.
"Then we'll have some results and decisions to make," Acta said.
Hafner's back flared up during a July 31 game against Kansas City, and it has caused him to miss four games thus far. Acta originally expected Hafner to be ready to play on Tuesday, but the injury hasn't gotten better.
Hafner, who has played in only 60 games this season, missed more than a month after having knee surgery earlier in the year. He's hitting .239 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs this season and will be a free agent at the end of the year.
Kluber's quality start a bright spot in loss
CLEVELAND -- The Indians lost to the Twins on Tuesday night, and that's ultimately what matters. But somewhat overlooked in the devastating defeat was starting pitcher Corey Kluber's quality outing for the Tribe.
The Indians had gone without a quality start throughout the first 10 games of their 11-game losing streak, and it was a rookie who finally stepped up. Kluber allowed only three runs (one earned) on six hits over six-plus innings to put Cleveland in a position to win.
"Kluber gave us what we needed," manager Manny Acta said.
Kluber didn't have the best command -- he walked three batters and often pitched behind in the count -- but he worked his way out of trouble against a hot Minnesota offense. Kluber has allowed only one earned run in his past 9 1/3 innings after giving up six runs in the first inning of his debut against the Royals.
"I didn't feel great [Tuesday]," Kluber said. "I was a little erratic, but I was able to make pitches when I needed to. For the most part, I was able to escape the damage I got myself into.
"I just tried to carry over what I did the second part of the game in Kansas City, just try to stay with a steady mix of pitches. I was trying to pound the strike zone. I didn't do a great job of it, but I just tried to keep them off balance, not give them stuff to sit on."
While it ultimately wasn't enough to end the Indians' woeful ways, Kluber's start was a step in the right direction for him and the rotation as a whole. The starting staff was 0-8 with an 11.66 ERA over the previous 10 games.
"It gives me confidence," Kluber said, "with it being my second start, knowing that even if I get in a jam, I still trust my stuff to get out of it as long as I execute pitches."
Quote to note
"When I flip tables, I just don't do it in front of [the media]. When I say bad words in both languages, I just don't say it in front of you. I just know how to behave. It doesn't mean I don't do some of the stuff you guys are wondering about."
-- Indians manager Manny Acta on his demeanor during the team's losing streak
Designated hitter Travis Hafner was out of the lineup for the third consecutive game Wednesday with back stiffness. Manager Manny Acta said Tuesday that Hafner would likely need more tests if he was not ready on Wednesday.
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera entered Wednesday hitting .358 (19-for-56) with three doubles and three RBIs over his past 14 games. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two walks on Tuesday.
Setup man Vinnie Pestano extended his scoreless streak to 19 innings with another solid eighth-inning performance Tuesday night against the Twins. Pestano entered Wednesday with the third-longest scoreless streak in the Majors behind Tampa Bay's Fernando Rodney (22 innings) and J.P. Howell (20 innings).
Justin Albers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.