CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Manny Acta does not believe the club made the wrong call by activating Carlos Carrasco from the disabled list after the pitcher made just one Minor League rehab appearance.
Carrasco's lone rehab start did not go well, but the Indians felt he was ready to return for Wednesday's outing against the Rays.
"When guys rehab in the Minor Leagues," Acta explained, "we don't make our decision based on performance. It's just usually on the pitch count and how the guy feels."
Carrasco landed on the 15-day DL on April 28 with inflammation in his right elbow. In a rehab appearance with Double-A Akron on Friday, the right-hander allowed four runs on four hits over 3 2/3 innings, amassing three strikeouts and three walks along the way.
In Wednesday's return to the rotation, Carrasco opened with eight balls in his first nine pitches. Over five innings, he allowed four runs on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Carrasco also piled up 100 pitches, with only 56 registering for strikes.
"I felt a little nervous coming back from rehab," said Carrasco, who added that he felt fine physically. "I was kind of a little bit in front. That's why I threw [so many] balls. I tried to be a little more aggressive in the last four innings."
Perez not concerned with drop in velocity
CLEVELAND -- Indians closer Chris Perez is not checking the radar-gun readings on the Progressive Field scoreboard after each fastball he unleashes. He is focused on results and, so far, his performance has been solid.
As for Perez's drop-off in pitch velocity, he does not sound concerned.
"I don't know -- is it down?" Perez asked on Thursday morning. "I'm not worried about it at all. It's not far off from where I was at this same time last year. People seem to forget about the beginning of last season.
"They only remember what happened at the end of the year, when I didn't allow any runs."
Perez, of course, was referring to the well-documented stretch of games from Aug. 8 through the end of last season, when he posted a 0.00 ERA with 10 saves in 17 appearances for the Tribe. Overall, the closer finished 2010 with a 1.71 ERA and 23 saves over 63 outings.
This season, Perez has a 2.81 ERA through 17 games, during which he has piled up 10 strikeouts and seven walks over 16 innings. His strikeout ratio per nine innings (5.6) has dropped from last year (8.7), and he is throwing 60 percent of his pitches for strikes, compared to 65 percent in 2010.
According to the website Fangraphs.com, Perez has also lost a couple ticks when it comes to mph. His fastball is currently averaging 92.4 mph -- down from 94.5 mph last season. Perez's slider is currently averaging 81.8 mph -- down from 83.7 mph in 2010.
During Spring Training, Perez was working on a changeup that eventually caused some minor inflammation in his right elbow. The closer abandoned the pitch partly due to that issue, but also because of poor results with the pitch. Perez said Thursday that there were no lingering issues from that.
"It's still early in the year," Perez said. "It'll get better once it starts to heat up more. That's what's happened in the past."
Indians welcome challenge of facing top arms
CLEVELAND -- There are a couple ways to look at the fact that the Indians have been tasked with facing a string of tough pitchers over the past nine days. Cleveland has taken it as a challenge.
Not only that, though.
"It's kind of fun actually," Indians outfielder Shelley Duncan said with a smile.
It is "fun" in that the recent run has given the American League Central-leading Tribe a chance to measure itself against some of the league's top arms. In Oakland, Cleveland saw hard-throwing Tyler Ross, along with Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson. In Anaheim, the Indians faced Jered Weaver and Dan Haren.
On Wednesday, Cleveland was overpowered over eight innings by Rays left-hander David Price. Tampa Bay sent tough righty James Shields to the mound on Thursday. Fortunately for the Indians, they will miss Mariners ace Felix Hernandez when Seattle comes to town next.
Entering the series in Oakland last week, the Tribe was averaging 5.4 runs per game this season. Over the past eight games, entering Thursday, Cleveland's offense had put up 3.3 runs per game, but still managed a 4-4 record.
"When you get to face these guys, it's a true test," Duncan said. "Sometimes you can't just go out there and expect to have a great day. You've got to really grind it out, get your nose in the dirt and create some runs."
Knee contusion keeps Sizemore out of lineup
CLEVELAND -- Grady Sizemore was out of the Indians' starting lineup for Thursday's game against the Rays, marking the second straight day the Tribe's star center fielder has missed due to a right knee issue.
It is not clear whether Sizemore will be ready to return to the lineup on Friday.
"I'm still day to day right now," Sizemore said after the Indians' 7-4 loss to the Rays on Thursday. "I'll come in tomorrow and see how it feels. Right now, we wanted to take at least two days off, stay off of it.
"It's not that I can't do anything. We're just taking precautions."
Sizemore jammed his knee during a hard slide into second base in the sixth inning of Tuesday's game against Tampa Bay. On Wednesday, an MRI exam revealed no structural damage, though Sizemore did suffer a right knee contusion.
"It's just painful right now," Sizemore said. "I don't really know how else to describe it."
On Thursday morning, Sizemore was at Progressive Field, but Michael Brantley was in the lineup as the club's leadoff man and center fielder. Cleveland does not believe Sizemore's injury to be serious, especially since it is unrelated to the microfracture surgery he had performed on his left knee last June.
Sizemore said he felt better after seeing the MRI results.
"[I was] pretty relieved," he said. "After what happened last year, I was obviously a little scared to be in the same situation. But everything came back positive. Now I just want to make sure I'm healthy before I get back out there."
Sizemore is hitting .282 with six home runs, 10 doubles, 11 RBIs and 15 runs scored. He was limited to 33 games last season due to the left knee injury.
Indians right-hander Mitch Talbot, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow issue, is scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Columbus on Saturday. Talbot will likely get one more Minor League start after that before potentially rejoining the Tribe's rotation.
Entering Thursday, the Indians had won 19 of their past 22 games against Tampa Bay in Cleveland, dating back to 2005. Since Tampa Bay joined the league in 1998, the Tribe has gone 40-15 against the Rays at Progressive Field.
Following Sunday's game against the Mariners, fans are invited to stay for a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Len Barker's 1981 perfect game for the Indians. Barker and Bob DiBiasio, the Indians' vice president of public relations, will provide live commentary during a postgame video highlight show.