August 20, 2014

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Indians: Package mailed to Perez under investigation

CLEVELAND – Things just got worse for Chris Perez and the Indians.

Drug agents are investigating a suspected marijuana shipment mailed to the Rocky River home of Perez, who is currently on the Disabled List with an injured right shoulder.

Perez, 27, was not arrested and no charges have been filed against Cleveland’s two-time All-Star closer, but the matter remains under investigation.

During a news conference Wednesday, Rocky River Police Chief Kelly Stillman said city officers, a regional narcotics unit and postal inspectors were involved in Tuesday’s daylong operation investigating a delivery to Perez’s home. In a brief written update Wednesday afternoon, the chief confirmed the shipment was suspected to be marijuana, but said that the state crime laboratory will have to confirm that.

Officers with a search warrant took evidence from the Perez house, according to the chief, but the seized items weren’t specified.

The Indians were aware of the situation Tuesday night, with general manager Chris Antonetti issuing a statement Wednesday shortly before noon: “Earlier this morning we were made aware of a situation involving RHP Chris Perez that occurred yesterday in Rocky River. We have talked with Chris and are currently in the process of gathering additional information. We will not have any additional comment at this time.”

Manager Terry Francona told reporters in New York prior to the Indians being swept by the Yankees on Wednesday that he had talked to Perez, but would not comment on the situation. Francona also said he did not know how the investigation would affect Perez’s status with the team.

Perez, who was placed on the DL on May 27 after a series of poor performances, was on the verge of beginning a throwing program that would have been followed by a brief minor-league rehabilitation stint and activation. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA in 17 games (6-of-8 in save opportunities).

Perez rents the home, which reportedly has been the site of criminal activity before him and his wife Melanie began living there. Rocky River Police said during Wednesday’s news conference that they had been to the house on multiple occasions.

It has been suggested that the package might have been sent to the previous residents. Police would not disclose the name on the address of the package.

If Perez is charged, legal issues aren’t the only ones confronting him. If he is found to have taken a banned substance, under Major League Baseball rules, he could be suspended for 15-30 days and fined $10,000 for a first offense. He could also be sent for treatment.

Despite pitching at a top level for much of his tenure, the fiery Perez has been a polarizing figure in Cleveland to Indians fans and opponents. He criticized Indians fans, ownership and the front office last year and recently de-activated his Twitter account after another brush with Cleveland fans.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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