CLEVELAND, Ohio – Gamers usually really don’t go to winter ball when they’re 29. By that time, if they’re continue to in the big leagues, they’ve by now carried out their time in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico or Venezuela.
Winter ball is for prospective customers or gamers on the cusp of the big leagues who need to have to find out a new pitch or placement.
Roberto Perez, who turned 30 two days right before Christmas, went to the Dominican Republic in November mainly because he had no decision. Immediately after hitting .168 (30-for-179) with the Indians final calendar year, he had to prove one thing to himself. It was not about catching. Any person who watched Perez guide the Indians’ pitching team in the 2016 postseason understood what he could do powering the plate. Perez had to discover out if he could continue to swing the bat.
“Roberto arrived in at the conclude of final season and informed us what he required to do,” claimed supervisor Terry Francona. “He required to get at least 100 at-bats. Which is what he claimed.”
Groups are generally anxious about acquiring their catchers perform winter ball. The placement is demanding, even for backups, and rest more than the offseason is vital.
There is also the possibility of injuries. No one gets conquer up in baseball additional than a catcher.
“He informed us, ‘I’ll make certain I’m carried out in time to get bodily completely ready for the season,’” claimed Francona. “For Roberto, I think it was a excellent point.”
Perez performed for Licey in the Dominican Republic. He performed 24 online games and strike .333 (23-for-69) with one homer and 11 RBI.
“Licey is like the Yankees of the Dominican,” claimed Perez. “It was sizzling. I was catching every single day. You perform with a ton of stress on you.
“The admirers would get on you all the time. If you really don’t accomplish, you are absent. They had been yelling, ‘Go, house, Go house.’ It was fun.’”
Most of all, Perez proved what he required to prove.
“I went down there to get my at-bats, not to catch,” he claimed. “They have excellent pitching there. I challenged myself to prove to me and everyone else what sort of participant I am. I felt excellent and I hope it carries into the season.”
Some thing else happened to Perez in the Dominican. He became the Indians’ beginning catcher when they traded Yan Gomes to Washington for a few gamers on Nov. 30. Gomes and Perez had been the Tribe’s catchers since 2014, but Gomes, when wholesome, was generally the starter. Previous calendar year he remaining Perez in the dust and had one of his very best yrs offensively.
“I was astonished,” claimed Perez, about the trade. “I was not really paying focus to any trade rumors. I was in the Dominican. I didn’t have a signal on my mobile phone. Then I bought a textual content from Tito (Francona) and Mike Chernoff, the general supervisor, called and informed me what happened.
“I was fired up for the option and I want to choose edge of it.”
Every supervisor stresses defense 1st their catcher. Francona is no various.
“The greatest point is (remaining audio) defensively and managing the activity – placing the proper fingers down and finding your pitcher as a result of not just the effortless parts, but the challenging parts of the activity,” claimed Francona. “Roberto is really geared up for that. I think we sense with frequent at-bats, he’ll strike better.
“If he does not strike like Gomes, we continue to believe in how he runs the activity. He’s sort of a standout in that element of the activity. Which is 1st and foremost for a catcher.”
Previous calendar year Perez made 55 begins. In four-moreover seasons in the big leagues he’s hardly ever appeared in additional than 73 online games. He’s likely to be a ton busier this calendar year.
“Every calendar year I’ve occur to spring training completely ready to catch every single day, but it hardly ever happened,” claimed Perez. “I’ve conditioned myself pretty very well.
“I’ve bought a ton of obligation now. It will be difficult for me. A problem mainly because I’ll be playing additional. It’s a issue of remaining on prime on my routines and undertaking my operate.”
Perez claimed he’ll lean on 1st base mentor Sandy Alomar for support to get as a result of the season. Alomar, who coaches the Indians catchers, was a 6-time All-Star catcher for the Tribe. The Indians traded for Kevin Plawecki from the Mets to backup Perez. He’ll see playing time as very well.
“I really don’t want to do much too a great deal,” claimed Perez. “I think I’m a better participant when I perform additional usually. I’ve carried out it right before. I’m a defensive catcher. I’m fired up to operate with the pitchers we have.
“I want to try and be dependable at the plate. Previous calendar year was disappointing for me. This calendar year I have an option and I really don’t want to mess it up.”