NEW YORK -- Just a few years ago, Rafael Perez was one of the most dominant setup men in the American League. Now, he's a reclamation project, used sparingly as he tries to build his confidence and command back up.
It's been quite a fall from one extreme to the other. But at least Perez's manager, Manny Acta, knows and understands the feeling.
"A couple years ago, I was in the top five in the [National League] Manager of the Year voting, and [the Nationals] fired me last year," Acta said. "I was hotter than Obama in D.C. a couple years ago."
Fates change in a hurry in the big leagues. But Acta said he has seen signs that Perez can get back to a level of respectability in the Tribe bullpen. Though Perez has given up eight earned runs in his past 7 1/3 innings pitched, none of those runs came in his past three innings of work entering Saturday.
"We see the stuff," Acta said. "It's not like he's lost velocity. ... We're trying to put him in situations where we can build up his confidence."
The Indians avoided arbitration with Perez by signing him to a one-year, $795,000 deal before the season. He is out of Minor League options, so he can't be sent to Triple-A Columbus without passing through waivers.