04/03/2013 7:19 PM ET
Perez closes door on bad memory
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Closers are trained to have a short memory. Whatever happened last night, last month or last season, turn the page and move on.
Indians closer Chris Perez made an exception on Opening Night.
Perez was summoned from the bullpen with the Tribe holding a 4-1 lead against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night. Opening Day starter Justin Masterson had given Cleveland a solid outing to help set up the save situation. On Opening Day against Toronto one year ago, Perez entered with a 4-1 lead following a gem from Masterson, blew the save and watched the Indians lose in 16 innings.
"I was definitely thinking about it," Perez said. "It was the same exact situation -- except the part of the order. It was 4-1 on Opening Day."
Perez opened the ninth inning on Tuesday by inducing back-to-back flyouts off the bats of Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind. After Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia connected for a two-out double, Perez struck out Colby Rasmus to seal the win and collect the save.
In last April's Opening Day loss, Perez labored through 31 pitches. He was admittedly over-cautious after dealing with an oblique issue during Spring Training and gave up three runs on three hits with two walks in two-thirds of an inning.
What was the difference this time around?
"I just gave people my best stuff," Perez said. "I felt like last year I was a little tentative, trying to get that first strike, and they came out swinging last year. That kind of put me in a defensive mode. This year, I was able to pour in strike one and I felt good. Last year, I was a little -- not worried -- but questioning that injury.
"I didn't know if I was 100 percent game ready with adrenaline and all that stuff. This year, I knew I was ready. No worries."
Perez's drama-free ninth inning followed perfect innings from setup man Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano in the seventh and eighth.
"That's what we do," Perez said. "That's how it lines up. Seven, eight, nine. Smitty, Vinnie and me. That's our formula going back to last year."
Kazmir scratched from Saturday start
TORONTO -- Scott Kazmir's comeback attempt is being put on hold.
On Wednesday, the Indians announced that Kazmir would not make his scheduled start against the Rays on Saturday as initially planned after injuring his right side while playing catch during Monday's workout at Rogers Centre. The team's fifth starter could be facing a trip to the 15-day disabled list.
"We're going to kind of go the cautious course," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
The Indians will announce a replacement starter on Thursday. Candidates from Triple-A Columbus include Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer -- both of whom are on the 40-man roster -- and Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is not. Righty Carlos Carrasco is not an option because he is currently serving a six-game suspension.
The Indians are sending Kazmir back to Cleveland, where he will undergo an MRI exam to determine the extent of his injury. The current plan is to have the pitcher rejoin the ballclub on Friday for its road series against Tampa Bay.
Kazmir alerted the Tribe's medical staff to some discomfort in his right side after playing catch on flat ground at a distance of 90 feet on Monday. Prior to Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays, the 29-year-old lefty worked through a 30-pitch bullpen session without any issues.
"It was pretty important," Kazmir said of his mound session. "As soon as I felt a little something, it was very minor to begin with. To be able to throw this bullpen pain-free, it felt good."
Kazmir said he felt well enough to pitch Saturday, but added that he understood if the team wanted to delay his season debut.
"He did fine. He did well. He probably could've pitched," Francona said. "The kid has worked hard. He made the club. It just didn't seem to make sense to any of us to [have him pitch Saturday]. We were really encouraged by the way he threw. We just didn't think it made sense."
Kazmir, who has not pitched a full season in the Majors since 2010, earned the fifth spot of the rotation as a non-roster invitee this spring, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 29 hits with 23 strikeouts and only three walks in 21 innings, which covers four Cactus League appearances and a pair of Minor League outings.
If Kazmir needs a stint on the disabled list, Cleveland can back-date it to Tuesday, meaning he would be eligible to be activated on April 17.
Indians claim right-hander Whitenack off waivers
TORONTO -- The Indians added an arm to their farm system on Wednesday, claiming right-hander Robert Whitenack off waivers from the Cubs. Cleveland optioned the starter to Double-A Akron.
In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the Indians transferred right-hander Frank Herrmann to the 60-day disabled list from the 15-day DL. Herrmann will miss all of this season while recovering from Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery on his throwing elbow.
Whitenack -- designated for assignment by Chicago on Monday -- went 19-18 with a 4.13 ERA in 69 career games in the Cubs' Minor League system. The 24-year-old was selected by the Cubs in the eighth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Last season, Whitenack went 1-6 wth a 5.96 ERA in 15 outings for high Class A Daytona in his return from Tommy John surgery.
Whitenack went 7-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 11 starts between Daytona and Double-A Tennessee in 2011, putting himself in position to potentially reach the big leagues. That was before the elbow injury that led to season-ending surgery in June that summer.
Prior to the injury, Whitenack went 18-12 with a 3.77 ERA over 54 Minor League appearances.
• The Indians have featured the same lineup for their first two games this season, and Francona said the order will likely remain unchanged for Thursday's game against Blue Jays lefty Mark Buehrle. Francona noted that he might tweak the lineup some this weekend, when Cleveland will face Rays lefties Matt Moore (Friday) and David Price (Sunday).
• Indians right fielder Drew Stubbs made a sliding catch of a Jose Reyes' fly ball in the eighth inning on Tuesday night, slamming into a wall in foul territory on the play. Francona indicated that Stubbs was a little sore on Wednesday, but felt well enough to remain in the starting lineup.
• With his Opening Day save on Tuesday, Perez now boasts 100 career saves for Cleveland. Since the save became an official stat in 1969, only Bob Wickman (139), Doug Jones (129), Jose Mesa (104) and Perez have collected at least 100 career saves for the Indians.
• As part of a new partnership with Domino's Pizza, the Indians will be offering a new "Wahoo Wednesdays" promotion this season. By ordering online at Dominos.com and entering the promotional code "Wahoo," fans can receive half off their pizza and be entered to win various Indians prizes.
Quote to note
"So far, Day 1, we're as advertised. We'll see how long we can stay that way."
-- Indians setup man Vinnie Pestano