The 2012 season for Rafael Perez was derailed rather early; in fact, a shoulder injury before the season even began would limit Perez's velocity and eventually remove him from the active roster.
2012 WAR: 0.1 (Age 30)
2012 Salary: $2.005M (Arbitration Eligible, Year 3 of 4)
2013 Contract Status: Arbitration Year 4 (5.157 Service Time)
Rafael Perez had changed quite a bit from his early days. Once one of the better relievers regardless of who he faced, Perez had been essentially a left-handed matchup guy in 2010 and 2011. He was still effective, yes, but no longer was the type of pitcher that you send out for an inning regardless of who was coming up. In 2011 right-handed hitters had a slash line of .270/.325/.383 against him, a far cry from .213/.257/.324 four years earlier.
But he was still effective against left-handers (.237/.289/.305 in 2011), so the Indians brought him back even though he made a bit over $2.0 in arbitration. Keeping him on the roster was a luxury, but a minor one. Tony Sipp, after all, would handle the late-inning duties, while Perez could be used earlier in specific situations (2 left-handers in a row, or 2 out of 3). At least that was the plan.
Perez injured his shoulder in spring training, but that was not released to the public until just recently. But the signs were there; he was rocked in exhibition games, and although he managed to survive in the few games he pitched it, he didn't look very effective. Unfortunately this comment from the April 25th game recap turned out to be correct:
Also, Rafael Perez is not right. Yes, he got out of the eighth without allowing a run, but that was due more to luck than anything. His velocity is way off what it usually is, and his stuff is just mediocre. There almost has to be a lingering physical problem with him; I don't see any other explanation for his performance. And if he's not going to be effective enough to use in late-game situations, then a DL stint might be best for both he and the club.
Perez's velocity, which had been upper-80s/lower-90s since he got to the majors, was suddenly in the mid-80s. A drop that sudden almost always means something physically wrong with a pitcher, and it was no different in this case. Perez would be placed on the DL after this game, though the reason given was a lat injury. He would attempt to make some rehab appearances in July, but he had a setback and had to shut down again after suffering a sprained ankle, the injury du jour of this season.
Perez would undergo shoulder surgery last week, a procedure called arthroscopic debridement. So why did the Indians and Perez wait so long to do the surgery?
Soloff said the Indians tried "conservative management" of Perez's injury because the outcome of shoulder surgeries "are not exceptionally great in throwing athletes." Soloff added, "In any surgical procedure, you have to prove a guy needs it. Conservative management and a thoughtful rehab program are always the first steps in the process."
In theory Perez should be recovered by the time pitchers and catchers report next spring, but whether he'll be back to his previous effectiveness is another question entirely. I think there's a very good possibility the Indians non-tender him, as while $2.0M+ isn't a lot of money in today's game, it's something when the Indians could go with a guy like Scott Barnes or Nick Hagadone instead at the major-league minimum.
2012 Game Logs
|1||Apr 7||CLE||TOR||9-10||1.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.00||4||14||11||3||1||0.164||9t 1-3 2 out d1||10t 3 out tie|
|2||Apr 9||CLE||CHW||9-GF||1.0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.00||3||12||7||2||1||0.007||9t --- 0 out d3||9t end d 3|
|3||Apr 11||CLE||CHW||6-6||0.2||1||2||2||1||0||1||6.00||4||10||5||1||1||-0.097||6t 1-- 1 out d3||6t 3 out d6|
|4||Apr 14||CLE||KCR||6-6||0.0||1||0||0||0||0||0||6.00||1||5||3||0||2||-0.079||6b 1-3 2 out a4||6b -23 2 out a3|
|5||Apr 15||CLE||KCR||6-6||0.2||1||1||1||1||0||0||7.36||4||14||7||2||0||-0.010||6b --- 0 out a6||6b 1-- 2 out a5|
|6||Apr 17||CLE||SEA||6-6||1.0||1||0||0||0||0||0||5.79||4||16||9||3||1||0.071||6b --- 0 out tie||6b 3 out tie|
|7||Apr 22||CLE||OAK||6-7||2.0||1||0||0||0||3||0||4.05||7||29||18||5||6||0.028||6b --- 0 out d3||7b 3 out d3|
|8||Apr 25||CLE||KCR||8-8||1.0||0||0||0||2||0||0||3.52||4||16||4||0||1||0.025||8t --- 0 out d2||8t 3 out d2|
|162 Game Avg.||3.64||68||13||1||66||64||30||27||5||24||54||281||115||8.8||0.7||3.2||7.3||2.29|