6/23/2013 1:55 P.M. ET
Myers to return as reliever, Perez winding down rehab
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have a pair of sidelined relievers closing in on a return to the team's bullpen. One was expected. The other came as a bit of a surprise on Sunday.
Following a 5-3 loss to the Twins, Indians manager Terry Francona noted that All-Star closer Chris Perez will likely make his final Minor League rehab appearance on Tuesday or Wednesday in his comeback from a right shoulder issue. Francona also noted that right-hander Brett Myers, who opened the season as the team's No. 3 starter, is being converted to a relief role.
Myers -- on the 60-day disabled list with a right elbow injury -- is scheduled to throw one inning of relief for Class A (short season) Mahoning Valley on Monday. Right-hander Blake Wood, who is coming back from right elbow surgery, is also slated to pitch one inning in a rehab assignment in the same game.
"[Myers] is going to prepare in a bullpen role," Francona said. "I think we all felt with the down time he's had, his best way to contribute is probably to go to the bullpen. To try to get him ramped up to 100 pitches, if there's any hiccup at all in that process, we'd probably lose him for the rest of the year."
Myers, 32, signed a one-year contract worth $7 million to pitch in Cleveland's rotation over the offseason. After opening the season 0-3 with an 8.02 ERA for the Tribe, he landed on the disabled list on April 20 with the elbow issue. During a previous Minor League rehab this season, Myers encountered a setback and was temporarily shut down.
Myers has experience as a late-inning reliever -- he saved 21 games in 2007 for the Phillies and 19 a year ago for the Astros -- but the Indians would likely view him as a long reliever. In 129 career relief outings, Myers has a 3.69 ERA. Last season, he posted a 3.31 ERA in 70 games between stints with the Astros and White Sox.
Perez, who has been on the 15-day DL since May 27 due to a shoulder injury, threw a simulated game with Double-A Akron on Sunday morning. The two-time All-Star closer is eligible for activation, but Francona said the team wants him to log one more Minor League rehab appearance before rejoining the Indians' bullpen.
"It went really well. He was thrilled," Francona said of Perez's simulated game. "We want to see how he bounces back first of all and then we'll figure it out."
Pestano holding steady after encountering troubles
CLEVELAND -- Vinnie Pestano is a perfectionist. Even at his best, the Indians reliever typically finds areas that he wants to improve. It goes without saying then that the right-hander's struggles this season have weighed heavily on him.
Pestano admitted as much following Saturday's 8-7 victory over the Twins.
"This season hasn't been anything other than challenging for me so far," Pestano sad. "I've definitely taken my lumps and my bruises. It's been the most difficult that I can remember in quite some time."
Pestano, who has been filling in as Cleveland's closer while Chris Perez recovers from his right shoulder injury, allowed two runs, two extra-base hits and issued a walk in a drama-filled save on Saturday night. Two outings prior to that showing, Pestano allowed four baserunners, but sidestepped damage in a 4-3 win over Kansas City.
Earlier this season, Pestano was shelved due to a right elbow issue, which has since convinced him to alter his routine between appearances. The right-hander is throwing more consistently on the side if he is not being used in games -- an approach aimed at keeping his arm more fresh. During Saturday's outing, Pestano sat around 90-93 mph with his fastball, showing no signs of diminished velocity.
Pestano just chalked it up as a bad night at the office.
"I feel good when I'm out there," Pestano said. "I've thrown a lot lately, either getting up to get in the game or throwing. But I don't think that had anything to do with [Saturday's performance]. I felt fine when I was on the mound. ... I pitched in the same conditions everybody else did. A lot of guys went out there and got some big outs, made some big pitches.
"I felt like I was making good pitches. [The Twins] were just on them. I don't really have any other explanation."
In his eight appearances leading up to Saturday's game, Pestano has posted a 1.13 ERA with a .233 opponents' batting average and a strike rate of 63 percent. That was a considerable improvement over the previous four appearances, during which the righty had a 13.50 ERA with a .333 opponents' batting average and a strike rate of 58 percent.
On the season, Pestano has a 4.50 ERA with an uncharacteristically high 1.41 WHIP in 22 innings. Over the 2011-12 campaigns, he had a 2.45 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 137 games for Cleveland.
Indians manager Terry Francona felt Pestano's stuff looked fine in his showing against the Twins.
"I actually thought Vinnie threw the ball better," Francona said. "I thought he was more crisp [Saturday] than he has been before. He just made a couple mistakes."
Actor Costner visits Tribe, Progressive Field
CLEVELAND -- Kevin Costner donned Indians gear on Sunday morning, looking more like a coach than the baseball players he portrayed on the big screen in years past. In the batting cage at Progressive Field, Costner looked to have the swing of a much younger man.
The actor was simply happy to send a few baseballs bouncing around the ballpark.
"I was actually glad I made contact," Costner said with a smile. "I hadn't swung in a couple years. I thought my chances of swinging through the ball were just as good as fouling it off."
Costner, 58, is in Cleveland filming the movie "Draft Day," which is scheduled for release next year. In the film, he plays the general manager of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. It will be another entry to the growing list of sports movies Costner has made over his long career. In baseball circles, he is best known for "Bull Durham" (1988), "Field of Dreams" ('89) and "For Love of the Game" (1999).
Prior to Sunday's game against the Twins, Costner played catch in the outfield, gloved some grounders at third base and took batting practice. He chatted with a handful of Cleveland's players on the field, and noted later that he has been in the stands for several Tribe games this season.
Costner has liked what he has seen from the Indians.
"I really think this team can win the division," Costner said. "I've watched a lot of baseball and they have a couple good pieces of DNA. One of them is they come from behind. Not all teams can do that. They've got the right amount of athletic arrogance to do that. ... I think they can run Detroit down. I think they can play. It's really up to them."
Costner said he has a few friends from Cleveland, so he has had that tie to the city for the past 25 years. The actor added that he always enjoys his trips to Ohio.
"Cleveland has been great to me. I like the town," Costner said. "I told my wife how fun it is to walk around. I'm not a drinker. I think you have to drink to fit in here."
Quote to note
"When guys like Kip get hot, they can carry a team. And he's definitely been a guy we've looked toward for that, for that big hit and that big at-bat. He's come through a heck of a lot more times than not." -- Pestano on second baseman Jason Kipnis
• With his walk in the first inning on Sunday, Kipnis has now reached base safely via a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in 25 consecutive games. Kipnis headed into Sunday's game batting .379 (25-for-66) in June, marking the fifth-highest average in the American League this month.
• Indians first baseman Nick Swisher, who missed the past seven games due to right shoulder soreness, returned to the starting lineup for Sunday's game against the Twins. Swisher played first base and stepped back into the cleanup spot within the Tribe's batting order.