CLEVELAND, Ohio – A small crack in Roberto Perez’s finger has become a big problem for the Cleveland Indians.
The Puerto Rican catcher, a two-time Gold Glove winner, will miss at least two months of activity with Cleveland after undergoing surgery on the ring finger of his right hand on Friday.
There is no definitive date for Pérez’s return. However, the Indians anticipate that the absence will be long.
“It won’t be weeks, but months,” warned Terry Francona, the Indians manager.
Perez played in pain for several weeks after suffering the fissure from a mix-up with reliever James Karinchak on April 14 in Chicago. The Puerto Rican hurt his pitching hand when he used it to catch a pitch without a glove.
This week, Pérez left the series in Kansas City to visit hand injury specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, who placed three pins in his finger to stabilize it.
Graham performed thumb surgery on Pérez’s right hand, which was fractured exactly five years ago. The catcher was lost two months after that procedure.
Perez’s loss represents a major blow for the Indians, who began a series against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday as leaders of the AL Central after winning nine of 11. The 32-year-old is one of the best receivers to defense and stands out as a drumming partner for Cleveland’s fine pitching staff.
Austin Hedges will be the main person in charge of replacing Pérez. Puerto Rican René Rivera will be the substitute.
Rivera had three hits Thursday in his first opening meeting with Cleveland. The Indians completed a four-game sweep in Kansas City, something they haven’t accomplished since 1960.
“We’ll see how this goes,” Francona said. “It’s easy to say: ‘René had three hits yesterday, so he should play today.’ But that was his first game. He has worked nine innings and we don’t want to rush with his work either. “