BALTIMORE -- Indians closer Chris Perez is one month to the day removed from sustaining the right shoulder injury that sent him to the disabled list. It also marks his last day on the sidelines before officially rejoining Cleveland's bullpen.
Prior to Wednesday's game against the Orioles, Indians manager Terry Francona declared Perez healthy and noted that the two-time All-Star closer would be activated from the 15-day DL for Thursday's series finale in Baltimore.
"He's going to join us tomorrow," Francona said on Wednesday.
Perez completed a Minor League rehab assignment with Class A (short season) Mahoning Valley on Tuesday, logging one strikeout in one inning. That represented the final step in the rehab process for Perez, who was shelved with a strained right rotator cuff after an outing against the Red Sox on May 26 in Boston.
Francona said Perez's last rehab game went well.
"He felt good. The reports were good. He did a good job," Francona said. "And I know it's kind of popular thinking that C.P. sort of has his own opinions and everything, but he couldn't have been better with us in communicating and doing what we asked and being honest."
Perez has a 4.32 ERA in 17 appearances, during which he has six saves, 18 strikeouts and 10 walks in 16 2/3 innings. The right-hander's line is marred by his last three outings, which included a 23.63 ERA (seven runs, five walks, five hits and three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings). Prior to that stretch, Perez posted a 0.64 ERA in his first 14 games.
When Perez officially rejoins the bullpen, interim closer Vinnie Pestano will return to his customary setup role. That will also allow sidearmer Joe Smith to shift back to his seventh-inning duties, and push the rest of the bullpen back into middle-relief innings.
"What'll be nice is when we get everybody back," Francona said, "and everybody is on all cylinders."
Indians activate Asdrubal, place shortstop in lineup
BALTIMORE -- Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was determined to return to the field as fast as possible. Cabrera made good on that goal on Wednesday, when he was activated from the 15-day disabled list by Cleveland.
To clear room on the roster, the Indians designated veteran infielder John McDonald for assignment.
Cabrera suffered a strained right quad while running out a ground ball on June 3 at Yankee Stadium, and the shortstop expected to be sidelined for four or five weeks. Instead, Cabrera is returning in just over three weeks after successfully navigating his way through a rehab program.
"He came back a lot quicker than we anticipated," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think we were probably hoping that maybe [he'd return] by the end of this road trip. So it was kind of shocking, the progress he was making."
Prior to Monday's game in Baltimore, the Indians put Cabrera through an intense workout at Camden Yards to test the strength and endurance in the shortstop's legs. The two-time All-Star impressed Francona and the Indians' medical staff, which cleared him to return for Wednesday's game against the Orioles.
The Indians put Cabrera in the lineup's second spot as their shortstop.
"When he came out Monday," Francona said, "what he did on the field, I was like, 'If he can do that, [he's ready].' He's running better now than he was at the beginning of the year. It kind of stunned us all. He just attacked it."
Cabrera, who has battled the quad issue since at least late April, is batting .254 with five home runs, 18 doubles, two triples, 25 RBIs and 28 runs scored through 53 games this season. He hit .295 in the 24 games leading up to the setback on June 3 in New York.
McDonald, 38, was acquired from the Pirates in exchange for cash and/or a player to be named later on June 10. He appeared in eight games in his second career stint with Cleveland, serving as a backup shortstop and late-inning defensive replacement.
Cleveland has 10 days to trade or release McDonald, or assign him to a Minor League affiliate if he clears waivers.
"We all want Johnny Mac to land on his feet," Francona said. "And he's going to land on his feet just by being Johnny Mac. ... And if [he doesn't land a big league job], he knows how welcome he is back here."
Frazier puts on a show in first Minor League game
BALTIMORE -- The Indians have high hopes for top Draft pick Clint Frazier. One game into his professional career, the young outfielder has already provided a storybook entrance for his time with Cleveland.
"He's got a great story to tell his grandkids some day," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said.
Frazier, who was selected with the fifth overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft earlier this month, launched a home run on Tuesday in his debut with the Arizona League Indians. In his second at-bat, the 18-year-old Frazier showed off his power and speed with a triple.
Antonetti smiled when asked about Frazier's debut.
"It's obviously great for him to get off to such a great start," Antonetti said. "It's hard to script it any better than hitting a home run in your first professional at-bat. And then in the next at-bat, he demonstrated his other tools by hitting a triple. He put up some very good at-bats."
The Indians selected Frazier out of Loganville High School (Ga.), where he hit .485 with 17 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 45 RBIs in his senior season. On Tuesday, Baseball America named Frazier the magazine's 2013 High School Player of the Year.
On Wednesday, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor -- the club's No. 1 prospect -- and relief prospect C.C. Lee were also named to the World Team's roster for the All-Star Futures Game.
"There are a lot of good things going on in our farm system," Antonetti said. "We've developed some guys that we were expecting some things coming into the year, as well as some guys that have developed maybe even more quickly than we would've thought.
"There have been a lot of positive stories in our Minor League system this year."
Quote to note
"Our focus with Francisco is helping him be the best Major League player he can be. We don't want to rush that process. He's continuing to develop exceptionally well in [Class A Advanced] Carolina, and is working through some things there. He's on a great path where he is now. We couldn't be more pleased with his development.
--Indians general manager Chris Antonetti, on top prospect Francisco Lindor
• Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has already turned in an historic month, and the Tribe still had six games to play in June entering Wednesday. Kipnis is only the eighth Cleveland player since 1916 to have at least seven stolen bases, 12 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and 30 hits in a single month.
The others include Shin-Soo Choo (2010), Grady Sizemore ('08, '05), Milton Bradley ('03), Roberto Alomar ('01, '00, 1999), Kenny Lofton (twice in '95), Joe Carter (twice in '86 and once in '85) and Braggo Roth (1917).
• Catcher Carlos Santana was out of the starting lineup on Wednesday for the first time since May 9. Francona noted that Santana was still sore from the foul ball he took off his left knee in Tuesday's game, but that was not why the catcher was not playing. With four games in three days in Chicago this weekend, Francona simply wanted to give Santana a full day off.
• Francona noted on Wednesday that the current rehab plan for right-hander Brett Myers (on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow injury) is to have the pitcher log at least five Minor League outings before being activated as a reliever. Francona added that Myers' schedule is not set in stone.
• On Wednesday, the Eastern League revealed its All-Star roster for the first half. Representing the Double-A Akron Aeros in the All-Star Game on July 10 will be first baseman and No. 12 prospect Jesus Aguilar, outfielder Carlos Moncrief, and pitchers Jose Flores and Matt Packer.