Reporting Matt Loede
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – While the Indians get set for a showdown with the third place Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field starting Tuesday night, a lot of the buzz remains about pitcher Chris Perez.
The Indians closer, who made headlines and stirred up conversation over the weekend with his critical comments about the Indians fans not coming to games, spoke again in pregame on Tuesday about if anything has changed in his mind now that a few days have passed.
Perez told the media Tuesday that this would be the final time that he’s going to talk about his weekend comments, and the situation with the fans.
“We shouldn’t need this to kick us in the butt. We’re professionals. We want to win every game. It is what it is. I got it off my chest and now it’s back to playing baseball,” Perez said. “We need to get on a roll. We have a big week this week with the Tigers and the White Sox. It really doesn’t matter unless we win.”
Good or bad, a lot of Indians fans and Cleveland sports fans have spoken out about the Perez comments. The closer said that in going out on the Indians off day, he felt a swelling of support from the Indians fan base.
“It’s all been positive,” Perez said. “I went to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame yesterday. I had a couple of people come and shake my hand. I have a couple of cards sitting up there that are from season-ticket holders who wanted to shake my hand and say ‘Thank you. You said what has been on our chest for a couple of years now.’ I think it has been overall positive.
“Negative or positive, the town is talking Tribe, which is a good thing this time of year. I could really care less who’s taking snaps for the Browns at the quarterback spot right now.
“Their season is so far away. We’re in the moment right now. We’re playing the Detroit Tigers right now and people are talking Tribe. If that gets more fans out to boo me, great. At least they’re in the stands.”
Some have felt that reason Perez said what he did was so he could force the Indians hand into trading him. Now 13-for-14 in save attempts and coming off an All-Star season, Perez said the comments he made were in no way said to try to get out of Cleveland.
“I don’t want out. I’m unhappy, that doesn’t mean I want out,” Perez said. “You’re allowed to be unhappy in your work situation. There’s an old saying in baseball: ‘If you don’t like it, play better.’ It doesn’t matter anything about your situation. If you don’t like it, play better and everything will take care of itself. That’s my viewpoint. I’m not going anywhere as long as I keep getting saves.
“The team isn’t going to trade me as long as I’m getting saves. If I really wanted out, I’d start tanking on the field, be injured, be a bad teammate, not talk to you guys, tell the fans to go screw themselves, not sign autographs. I don’t want out. I want to win. I’m here. My friends are here. Do I want to get traded midway through the season and try to meet 30 new guys again and get thrust into that? No, I’ve already been through that when I got traded here. I like it here. I’m comfortable here. I’m not out. I’m in. I’m here.”
Tonight could be a huge test not only for the Indians but for Perez. Many are wondering the next time he takes the mound what the fans will be like in terms of cheering or booing him.
The closer said that he’s not concerned about it, but that he feels he will get a positive response from no matter how many fans are in the seats.
“If I get 1-2-3, it’s going to be cheers like it always is,” Perez said. “I really don’t care what the fans do. Hopefully they’re loud and make it hard for the other team. If I get booed as soon as they introduce me, I’ll feel like it’s a road game and I’ll probably shove it up the other team’s butt.”