TORONTO -- Second baseman Jason Kipnis has made a lot of noise since bursting on to the big league scene in July 2011.

Kipnis has followed up a rookie season in which he hit .272 with seven homers, 19 RBIs and an .840 OPS over 36 games, by clubbing 11 home runs, 49 RBIs, and swiping 20 bases -- third in the American League -- through the Indians' first 86 games of the year.

But it's not Kipnis' bat that has impressed his skipper the most.

"This year, he has come out and played every day," manager Manny Acta said. "Played very good defense for us -- that has been our biggest surprise here."

Acta is thoroughly impressed with how well Kipnis has handled second base, a position he had to learn once getting drafted and entering the Indians' Minor League system in 2009. Kipnis played outfield in high school and in his college days at Arizona State University, but Acta says Kipnis has made a very smooth transition.

"[He] has played tremendous defense," Acta said about the 25-year-old.

As much as Acta values Kipnis' glove, he is counting on his bat, as well, as the Indians battle it out in the AL Central.

Kipnis became just the second Indians player to hit 10 home runs and steal 20 bases before the All-Star break, joining Grady Sizemore, who achieved the feat in both 2007 and 2008.

"He has been pretty consistent, and that is what he did last year," Acta said about Kipnis, who leads the team in stolen bases and RBIs. "He has been a steady force and hopefully he can have the same results in the second half."

Perez's first rehab outing a success

TORONTO -- Indians reliever Rafael Perez checked out well after making his first rehab appearance at Double-A Akron on Saturday.

The lefty started the game, and threw an eight-pitch scoreless inning with no reported issues, according to manager Manny Acta.

After the outing, Perez threw an 11-pitch bullpen session and is slated for another outing on Monday.

Perez, who landed on the 60-day disabled list with a strained left lat muscle, has not pitched with the Tribe since April 25, and will need to make a number of rehab appearances before he is ready to join Cleveland.

"I [was] told he will probably try to get at least five outings down there [Akron]," Acta said.

Acta said while Perez is throwing every two days for now, he will have to pitch in back-to-back games before the Indians feel comfortable activating him.

Perez has appeared in eight games with the Indians this season, and sports a 3.52 ERA over 7 2/3 innings of relief.

In 2011, Perez and teammate Joe Smith, along with Joel Peralta of the Rays, tied for the second most appearances in the American League with 71, behind only Tigers closer Jose Valverde.

The 30-year-old Perez, who has spent his entire seven-year career with Cleveland, has a 3.64 ERA with 69 holds over 338 career games.

Worth noting

• Michael Brantley, who carries a 12-game hitting streak into Sunday's finale against the Blue Jays, has hit safely in five straight at-bats against lefties.

Brantley is the first left-handed Indians batter to get hits in five consecutive at-bats against southpaws since Shin-Soo Choo did it in July 2009. The 25-year-old Brantley is hitting .303 against left-handers this season.