September 2, 2014

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Indians notes: Now that Acta is gone, Perez wants to return

CLEVELAND — If Indians closer Chris Perez wanted out of Cleveland before, times have changed now that Manny Acta is no longer around.

Perez

“A lot of the problems walked out of the door last week,” said the right-hander, referring to Acta’s dismissal Thursday. “I’m allowed to sometimes be unhappy with my workplace. That doesn’t mean I want out, doesn’t mean I want to leave.

“I want to be here. I’ve got a foundation here. My family’s comfortable here. But at the same time, I want to win. We definitely have pieces in place that can make us successful. We’ve proven that. We have pieces, but we need to build on them for sure.”

Through a tumultuous and outspoken season for the All-Star closer, Perez has criticized Indians fans and the front office. Prior to Tuesday’s game against the White Sox, he turned his attention to Acta.

“The Manny you guys (reporters) saw and the Manny we saw were different guys,” Perez told reporters. “He’s not a confrontational person. In this game, we’re men. We can handle it. Sometimes we need a kick in the butt. He did it this year, but it was a couple weeks too late.

“Last year, we didn’t get it at all. He only gave us two speeches, one at the start of the season and one at the end, and we were playing for first place until September.”

Perez thought Indians players took on a losing and passive personality from their manager.

“It sounds cliche, but a team does follow it’s manager, good or bad,” Perez said. “If a manager has no activity on the field, if he doesn’t argue calls or get upset, why would his team?”

Perez, who entered Tuesday with a 3.34 ERA and 39 saves, is under Cleveland’s control for the next two years, but there has been speculation that he and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will be traded in the offseason.

“I don’t know,” said Perez, when asked if he thought he would be back in 2013. “That’s a question for (general manager) Chris Antonetti. They’ve got to make some decisions this year and I think what they do with some of us, trade us or not trade us, is going to tell you which way the team is going to go.

“I want to come back. I’ve spent three-plus seasons here already and built up a good foundation down there in the bullpen.”

Interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. defended Perez.

“If you understand the guy, it’s not detrimental to the team,” Alomar Jr. said. “Some guys, that’s the way they are. That’s what drives him. Sometimes that’s not perfect for any particular organization. They don’t like seeing guys like that. But the guy’s an All-Star player. He has performed. Whatever he does is for some particular reason. That’s who he is. In the locker room, he’s been great. He gets along with everybody.

“Not everyone is going to be the same on your team. We had different players here in the past which were the same way, but they went out there and gave you their the best. You’re not going to agree with everything they do but these are grown men. You try to alleviate some things and talk to them, but they’re grown men.”

Swan song?

Travis Hafner is expected to be in the lineup for the season finale tonight. It may be his final game in an Indians uniform.

“It’s a possibility,” Hafner said. “There’s a lot of uncertainties. I’ve been here so long. A lot of these guys are like family. I’ve really enjoyed playing here. The fans have been great.”

The Indians are not expected to exercise a $13 million club option on Hafner next season, but will have to pay him a $2.75 million buyout as a result.

It’s been another injury-plagued season for Hafner, who has been limited to 64 games, batting .224 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs.

“It’s been disappointing,” he said. “I’ve just kind of been inconsistent at times. The biggest disappointment is not being able to be out there every day.”

Hafner plans on playing next year and the Indians have indicated they would be open to bringing the designated hitter back at a reduced rate.

“At this point, I have no idea,” Hafner said. “It’ll be different. There will be some excitement (this offseason).”

Roundin’ third

Shin-Soo Choo entered Tuesday on an 11-game hitting streak, batting .391 with six doubles and 10 RBIs over the span. … Outfielder Michael Brantley wasn’t in the lineup but he was in uniform prior to the game — a Cleveland Browns uniform.

Brantley was sporting a full Browns uni — minus shoulder pads — which included a Trent Richardson jersey, an autographed Josh Cribbs helmet and Browns football pants. … Tonight, 7:05, STO/WTAM 1100-AM. Huff (3-0, 2.86) vs. Floyd (11-11, 4.47).

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.