The Indians announced on Wednesday that catcher Roberto Pérez was placed on the 10-day injured list with a fractured right fourth (ring) finger, and in an ensuing move, Cleveland selected the contract of René Rivera from Triple-A Columbus.
Pérez sustained the injury while catching against the White Sox on April 13, and though he’d been able to gut out a few weeks with it, manager Terry Francona said it was clear the injury was bothering him. On throws down to second in between innings, for example, Francona said Pérez had been lobbing the ball instead of firing it down as he had before the injury.
Cleveland decided it was best to put Pérez on the injured list now and resolve the issue as soon as possible.
“He was feeling it, and he said he was feeling it,” Francona said. “As the game progressed, he would feel it more, and that makes sense. They X-rayed it and it looked like it was starting to get a little bit worse, so we needed to stop that. That's not fair to Berto.”
Since the injury, Pérez’s offensive numbers have dipped.
He was hitting .238 with a .972 OPS through April 13, but in 10 games since, those numbers fell to .131 and .569. Francona said at least part of that dip was because of the injury, as Pérez had been hesitant to “pull the trigger” on pitches he would normally swing at.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Cleveland had no concrete timetable for Pérez’s recovery. Francona said Pérez was scheduled to fly back early on Wednesday and meet with Dr. Thomas Graham in Dayton, Ohio, and the team would make a decision for the optimal course of care afterward.
“The best way I can put it is, we're going to do what's in his best interest and not try to shortcut something,” Francona said. “I mean, he's shown he's willing to try to play with things, but we need to be really fair to him, too.”
In Pérez’s place, Austin Hedges will likely handle the bulk of time behind the plate. Hedges started three of the first four games in May and was in the lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Royals, though he entered Wednesday just 3-for-30 on the season with three RBIs. Rivera -- who signed with Cleveland on April 14 -- was recalled from Triple-A to provide catching depth in Pérez’s absence.
Good to note
Along with placing Pérez on the IL and calling up Rivera, the Indians also announced that outfielder Ben Gamel was designated for assignment on Wednesday. Gamel made the Opening Day roster, but he went 1-for-14 with a double and six strikeouts before being optioned to the alternate training site on April 17.