CLEVELAND -- With concerns hovering over Rafael Perez's distinct dip in pitch velocity, the Indians placed the left-handed reliever on the disabled list on Friday. Cleveland indicated that the pitcher was suffering from a strained left lat muscle.
The Tribe recalled left-hander Nick Hagadone to fill Perez's spot in the bullpen.
Through eight appearances this season, Perez struggled to find the strike zone and feature the same velocity he has shown in the past with his fastball, slider and changeup. The 29-year-old missed time during Spring Training due to soreness in his left shoulder, but made the Opening Day bullpen after logging just five Cactus League innings late in camp.
"It's a different spot [than the shoulder soreness]," said Indians manager Manny Acta, referring to the source of the injury. "We were concerned because we saw his lack of velocity, but we kept coming to him and asking him about how he felt and he said he was fine. He felt that it was probably just a lack of Spring Training."
This season, Perez has averaged 82.3 mph with his slider (the pitch he throws most often) and 87.7 mph with his fastball, according to PitchFX data. The slider stood at 85.7 mph in 2011 and 86.6 mph in 2010. Perez averaged 89.3 with his fastball last season and 90.7 mph in 2010.
On the year, Perez has also thrown just 55 percent of his pitches for strikes compared to a 65 percent rate for his career. In his most recent outing against the Royals on Wednesday, the lefty issued two walks in one inning, registering only four strikes among the 16 pitches he threw.
Perez complained of soreness following that outing.
Perez, who has never previously been on the disabled list in his seven big league seasons, has posted a 3.52 ERA in eight outings, compiling four strikeouts against four walks in 7 2/3 innings. He will be eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on May 11.
Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff indicated that Perez will likely need three to six weeks to recover from the injury. Surgery is not being considered.
"They don't think it's actually as bad as they've seen some in the past," Acta said. "The doctors feel that he should be able to recover, no problem."
Hagadone back up, may stay awhile this time
CLEVELAND -- Nick Hagadone was caught off guard by both promotions to the big leagues this season. Standing at his new locker inside the Indians' clubhouse on Friday afternoon, the left-handed reliever said the latest surprise was how soon he returned to Cleveland.
It had only been five days since the Tribe sent him back to the Minor Leagues.
"I didn't expect to come back so quick," Hagadone said. "I unpacked everything and then packed it back up [Thursday] afternoon to come back here."
The Indians recalled the 26-year-old Hagadone from Triple-A Columbus to replace left-hander Rafael Perez, who was placed on the 15-game disabled list with a left lat muscle injury on Wednesday. With no timetable established for Perez's return, Cleveland will get a long look at what Hagadone can offer for the big league bullpen.
Hagadone and Tony Sipp are the only left-handers in the 'pen at the moment.
"He's the second lefty out of the 'pen," manager Manny Acta said. "I trust him now to come out and do those type of things [that Perez did]. Plus, it looks like he's going to be here for a while with Raffy out. So we might as well test him out."
Hagadone -- acquired from the Red Sox as part of the July 31 deal that sent Victor Martinez to Boston -- was previously with the Tribe from April 17 through Sunday, while shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was on baseball's bereavement list. Hagadone posted a 2.70 ERA in three relief outings for Cleveland and has also spun 7 1/3 shutout innings for Triple-A Columbus this season.
Last year, Hagadone posted a 4.09 ERA in 11 innings for the Indians down the stretch.
"He's got the stuff. We all know that," Acta said. "He works extremely hard. He's always eager to learn and to get better and has never taken a step back. Every time he goes down tot he Minor Leagues, he knows what he has to do. When he asked to do it, he does it.
"He's pretty close to being a very good Major League pitcher. He was just working on the command of his pitches. But, the stuff is there. When you've got stuff like he has, you can get away with some of those mistakes up here."
Kipnis' eye remains red, but he's feeling better
CLEVELAND -- Jason Kipnis still had some redness around the outside of his right eye on Friday afternoon, but the Indians' second baseman was feeling much improved after his bizarre bout with an unknown ailment one day earlier.
In the fifth inning of Thursday's 4-2 loss to the Royals, Kipnis stepped out of the batter's box with a 3-0 count and began rubbing his eye. He was soon joined by head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, who poked and prodded, trying to determine what was behind the sudden discomfort.
"We don't know what it was," Kipnis said. "I'm sure it didn't help that I was scratching and rubbing with dirty batting gloves."
Kipnis does not wear contacts and he added that no villainous eyelashes were found.
The episode lasted several minutes. Soloff applied eye drops while Kansas City starter Luis Mendoza took a few warmup tosses to pass the time. Kipnis eventually asked to have his eyelid taped open, because that seemed to temporarily alleviate the issue.
Indians starter Justin Masterson jokingly referred to Kipnis as "Balboa," referencing the famous boxing movie Rocky.
"It was swollen on the outside," Kipnis said. "I said, 'Let's tape it up,' because it actually felt good when we taped it open kind of. Eventually it stopped itching as much and the irritation went down."
With Kipnis still fighting the eye problem, he settled back into the batter's box, took two pitches and drew a walk from Mendoza. The second baseman then added a base hit in each of his next two plate appearances, accounting for two of the Tribe's six hits on the afternoon.
Kipnis might consider rubbing pine tar in his eye more often before at-bats.
"I might need to start rubbing all the outs out of my eyes before the game," he quipped.
Quote to note
"First of all, I rent a house here. I don't stay in a Holiday Inn Express, and I'm not a doctor."
--Manager Manny Acta, joking when asked if Rafael Perez might need surgery
Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo tested out his sore left hamstring with some baseball activities prior to Friday's game against the Angels, but remained out of the lineup. It is possible that Choo will return within the next two games, but manager Manny Acta said the team would have a better sense on Saturday morning.
With Choo (left knee) temporarily sidelined and the offense struggling, Acta switched up his lineup on Friday. Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis Hafner, Carlos Santana, Jack Hannahan, Shelley Duncan and Casey Kotchman occupied the Nos. 2-8 spots, respectively.
"We're just trying some things out," Acta said. "We have to do it. We're scuffling a little bit."
Outfielder Johnny Damon went 1-for-4 with a double and a walk while playing left field in an extended Spring Training game on Thursday in Arizona. Indians manager Manny Acta noted once again that the team has not decided when exactly Damon will advance to a Minor League assignment, which is the next step before he joins Cleveland's roster. It has been projected that Damon might get the call to the big leagues in early May.
The Indians entered Friday with no home runs in their past eight games, marking the longest drought (in terms of games) since the club went without a long ball in eight straight from Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 1991. Cleveland's current drought covered 75 innings, dating back to Carlos Santana's blast in the fifth inning on April 17 in Seattle.