Perez, Asdrubal represent Tribe in different ways
Cut from different cloths, closer and shortstop return to All-Star Game
KANSAS CITY -- Chris Perez has been thinking about what it will be like to hear his name announced throughout Kauffman Stadium during the All-Star Game introductions on Tuesday night. The Indians closer is curious to see how Kansas City's fans will react.
Given his recent history with the Royals, Perez is expecting to hear some boos.
"If they boo, they boo," Perez said with a smile on Monday afternoon. "I'm going to tip my hat and smile, but if it happens, it happens. There's no hard feeling from me. I'm just excited to be here. I am playing for their team tomorrow. Maybe they'll cheer."
Perez does not want this to be about him, though. This moment is about the Indians, who have sent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and Perez to the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season. It is a sign that both players are developing into cornerstones and that Cleveland is taking steps in the right direction.
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Cabrera has led the offense and Perez has anchored the bullpen, giving the Tribe a pair of stars that have moved beyond being one-year wonders. They are both products of what Cleveland is trying to build, and each have done their part in helping turn the Indians into contenders after years of rebuilding.
"As an organization, as a whole," Perez said, "this is what we're trying to build. Consistency."
Cabrera and Perez could not, however, be more different in personality. The shortstop is a softspoken leader for the club. Perez? Well, the closer is cut from a different cloth.
"I've always been brash," Perez said. "I've always spoken my mind. I've always backed it up. I've never run from it and I don't plan on it."
American League lineup
|1. Derek Jeter, NYY||R||SS|
|2. Robinson Cano, NYY||L||2B|
|3. Josh Hamilton, TEX||L||LF|
|4. Jose Bautista, TOR||R||RF|
|5. Prince Fielder, DET||L||1B|
|6. Adrian Beltre, TEX||R||3B|
|7. David Ortiz, BOS||L||DH|
|8. Mike Napoli, TEX||R||C|
|9. Curtis Granderson, NYY||L||CF|
|Justin Verlander, DET||R||P|
It also explains his rocky relationship with the Royals.
On April 14, following a bench-clearing incident with the Royals in Kansas City, Perez posted a message on his Twitter page that riled up Royals fans, and later earned the pitcher a fine from Major League Baseball. In a home game against the Royals on May 28, Perez waved his hand in front of his face after striking out K.C. outfielder Jarrod Dyson.
Perez has also been outspoken this season about the Indians' home attendance figures, upsetting some segments of the Tribe's fan base. For the most part, though, the closer said Indians fans have applauded his opinions, even offering him multiple standing ovations in the wake of some of his controversial comments.
"I think I woke them up a little bit," Perez said. "They're good fans. They're coming out. They're being vocal. I think they just needed a little kick in the butt. It's been good. It's been really good since it happened."
Perez wants to make one thing very clear, though.
"My job is to get saves," Perez said. "It's not to fire up fans or fire up teammates. My job is to go in when we're winning and get saves. Luckily, I've been able to do it pretty well and I'm getting rewarded for it."
The 27-year-old Perez has saved 24 of his 26 save opportunities this season, posting a 3.34 ERA in 34 appearances for the Indians. Six of the 12 runs he has allowed have come in his two blown saves -- one on Opening Day against the Blue Jays and the other coming in a loss to the Rays on Sunday.
Between the blown saves, Perez's run of 24 consecutive saves was the second-longest single-season streak of its kind in team history. Only Jose Mesa's run of 38 straight saves in 1995 was longer than the streak enjoyed by Perez in this season's first half.
"Right now, Chris is one of the best closers in the American League," Cabrera said. "I'm really happy that we can come here this year together."
Perez and Cabrera were also the Indians' representatives at last year's Midsummer Classic at Chase Field in Phoenix. Cabrera started for the American League -- after Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter sat out of the contest -- and went 0-for-2 in the National League's 5-1 victory. Perez pitched a scoreless sixth and struck out Reds slugger Joey Votto.
For the 26-year-old Cabrera, last season provided the stage for a breakout showing (.273 with 25 home runs and 92 RBIs). This year, the switch-hitting shortstop has maintained his high level of play, hitting .286 with 11 homers, 20 doubles, 42 RBIs and 43 runs through 76 games for Cleveland.
"I feel really good right now," Cabrera said.
"He's found something," Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo said. "He's very good defensively -- top in the Major Leagues. And hitting, I think he found something last year. He's got power. He's got average. He's got everything. I'm really excited for him."
Perez believes both he and Cabrera have helped lead by example.
"I'm ready to pitch every day. Cabby is a gamer, too," Perez said. "He's played through some injuries that people don't know about. And like last year, I didn't have my best stuff and I'm there. If I can pitch, I'm going to be there. I hope it rubs off on the other pitchers. I'm vocal with you guys, but I really tend to lead by example on the field and off the field.
"I hope they follow, like, 'Look at Perez. He's pitched three out of four and he still wants to pitch today.' That kind of stuff. Some guys might be like, 'I need a day.' No. Let's go. I want to pitch four in a row. I want to pitch five in a row. I hope the other pitchers see that and feed off of it."
That is the side of Perez that his critics rarely get to see.
The closer's naysayers tend to focus only on what they hear.
"They don't boo nobodies," Perez said with a smirk.