CLEVELAND — Left-hander Rafael Perez hasn’t resembled the same pitcher he’s been in the past. Now the Indians know why.
Perez was placed on the disabled list Friday with a strained left latissimus muscle, Cleveland recalling left-hander Nick Hagadone from Triple-A Columbus to take his roster spot.
Though head trainer Lonnie Soloff indicated that Perez would miss 3-6 weeks, he is confident that the injury will not require surgery.
“(The doctors) don’t think it’s as bad as they’ve seen some in the past,” manager Manny Acta said in reference to a similar injury to former Indians reliever Rafael Betancourt, who missed nearly a month in 2006 with the ailment. “The doctors feel he should be able to recover, no problem.”
Perez (1-0, 3.52 ERA, eight games) said he sustained the injury during an appearance Wednesday, but the Indians had noticed a drop in velocity from the start of the season. He missed a large part of spring training with left shoulder soreness, but Acta said the injuries aren’t related.
“We were concerned because we saw the drop in velocity,” Acta said. “But we kept coming to him and asking him and he kept saying he was fine. It made me feel like it was just lack of spring training outings.”
Hagadone will take over Perez’s role as the second left-hander out of the bullpen behind Tony Sipp. He pitched well in a brief stint with Cleveland April 17-22 — 2.70 ERA in three appearances.
“He’s got the stuff. We all know that,” Acta said of Hagadone. “He’s never taken a step back. He’s pretty close to being a very good major league pitcher.
“I trust him. It looks like he’s going to be here for a while, with Raffy out. Might as well test it out right away.”
In other injury news:
(Bullet) Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo (left hamstring tightness) was expected to participate in activities with head trainer Soloff on Friday. Choo missed his third game Friday.
Acta juggled his lineup for the series opener with Los Angeles, dropping slumping Shelley Duncan to seventh and Carlos Santana (fifth) in the order, while moving Jack Hannahan up a spot (sixth).
Duncan entered Friday 3-for-24 with strikeouts in seven of his last eight at-bats, while Santana had two hits in his last 13 at-bats (four games). Hannahan was batting .308 with a team-leading 13 RBIs through Thursday.
With Choo out, Travis Hafner has reclaimed the cleanup spot. He’s entered Friday batting a team-high .314 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 15 games.
Acta gave no timetable for Johnny Damon to leave extended spring training and begin a minor league rehab assignment with Columbus.
“Johnny’s comfortable (in Arizona) and we’re comfortable,” Acta said. “It’s more of a controlled environment. So, for now, he’s staying there.”
Albert Pujols arrived in Cleveland scuffling at the plate. He entered Friday batting just .224 and without a homer through his first 19 games as an Angel.
“He’s going to be fine. You can write that down,” Acta said. “It’s part of the game. Even the best ones fail seven out of 10 times. Hopefully he heats up once he leaves town.”
Third baseman Giovanny Urshella, a non-drafted free agent acquisition in 2008, went 2-for-5 with his first homer and three RBIs Thursday in Advanced Class A Carolina’s 8-5 win over Lynchburg. … Shortstop Francisco Lindor, Cleveland’s top prospect, raised his average to .289 Thursday with a 3-for-6 performance in Class A Lake County’s 7-6 (11 innings) victory over Peoria.
Cleveland entered Friday ranked dead last in attendance, drawing an average of 15,001 — over 5,000 fewer than second-to-last Seattle. … The Indians entered Friday ranked fourth in the majors in pitches seen per plate appearance (3.99). They ranked second in the American League behind Toronto’s 4.02 average. … Today, 1:05, Channel 8/WEOL 930-AM/WTAM 1100-AM. Gomez (1-0, 1.93) vs. Haren (0-1, 4.07).
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