February 22, 2013

Major League Notebook: Indians' closer vows better behavior

The Associated Press

GOODYEAR, Ariz. - On page 169 of the Indians' new media guide there's a quick recap of Chris Perez's 2012. It reads: "All-Star had another solid season on the mound."

Off it, it was anything but stellar.

Perez lost control.

If he wasn't railing at Cleveland fans for not supporting the team, the colorful closer was criticizing the team's owners for not spending money. He irritated opponents on social media and with primal screams and fist pumps, and Perez got caught on video yelling obscenities at a fan taunting him in Oakland.

He saved 39 games but Perez couldn't stop himself. He got into trouble far worse than any late-inning jam he ever encountered.

"It got away from me," he said Thursday, sitting at his locker as teammates trickled into the clubhouse following a morning workout. "Hopefully none of that happens this year."

This season, Perez promises the only heat he'll deliver will be to the plate. Perez said he won't be a distraction this season, and new Indians manager Terry Francona doesn't expect any problems with the colorful right-hander.

"I don't have any regrets but I definitely could have handled it all differently," Perez said.

YANKEES: Outfielders Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner could be switching positions.

Granderson worked out in left field and the speedy Gardner switched to center.

Yankees Manager Joe Girardi plans to play the pair together in upcoming spring-training games.

Said Girardi: "I think it has a chance to help us a little bit but I'm not really sure. That's why I've said from the beginning that I'm going to toy with it."

NATIONALS: Washington agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Chris Young on a minor-league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.

Young is 53-43 with a 3.79 ERA in 159 career starts with the New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers. The 33-year-old Young was an All-Star with the Padres in 2007.

Young went 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA in 20 starts last season with the Mets.

REDS: Cincinnati blocked ace Johnny Cueto from pitching for the Dominican Republic in next month's World Baseball Classic.

Cueto strained his right oblique eight pitches into last October's division series against San Francisco. Because he finished the year with an injury, the Reds had the right to block him from playing in the WBC.

PHILLIES: Former Philadelphia star Mike Schmidt is in spring camp for a month and is spending quality time with Ryan Howard.

Schmidt is working with the Phillies' slugger on making more contact at the plate, especially late in games.

Howard hit only .143 after the sixth inning last year. He struck out 45 times in those 84 at-bats.

Schmidt said he's hoping Howard can put more balls in play and cut down on fouls that leave him in two-strike counts.

BREWERS: Corey Hart has a big brace on his right knee and uses crutches to get around the Milwaukee clubhouse.

Hart is still slow getting around a month after surgery to repair a torn meniscus and other damage to the joint in his knee but is hopeful of a speedy recovery.

He even thinks there's a chance to be back in the Brewers' lineup by late April, a month earlier than expected.

"I'm always pretty positive and I think that's not unrealistic to shoot for that kind of early of a comeback," Hart said.

"I still want to beat the odds and come back as fast as I can. I think that April 20 is early but I don't think it's unrealistic."

Hart has an MRI in two weeks. He should then be able to start doing regular rehabilitation work.

RANGERS: Ivan Rodriguez rejoined the Texas organization as a special assistant to the general manager with several different roles.

Rodriguez made his major league debut as a 19-year-old for the Rangers in 1991. The 14-time All-Star catcher retired as a player last April after 21 seasons, more than half spent in Texas.

ATHLETICS: Michael Ynoa reported to spring training with Oakland after missing the opening week because of chicken pox.

Signed by Oakland for $4.25 million when he was 16, Ynoa has been limited to 17 professional games because of elbow problems.

The 21-year-old right-hander is on the 40-man roster this spring training.

WHITE SOX: For second-year left-hander Chris Sale, it's a year after his rookie season, with an All-Star Game appearance and the rigors of pitching 192 innings under his belt.

"I can't wait," Sale said. "I've never really had two years of the same thing. It's fun, it's exciting and I'm ready to go."

Manager Robin Ventura hasn't named his opening-day starter but Sale is a solid bet to get the nod over former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy, the veteran leader of the staff. Sale has endorsed Peavy as the choice and vice versa.

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