Pestano hopes Perez recovers quickly

Pestano hopes Perez recovers quickly

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Vinnie Pestano wants to eventually be a closer in the big leagues. That has always been the goal for the Indians reliever, but it is not one he wants to achieve just yet.

Pestano wants Chris Perez healthy and holding down the ninth inning for the Tribe.

"It's something I'm familiar with," Pestano said on Monday morning at Cleveland's spring complex. "It's something I want to do when the time comes. When that time comes, I feel I'll be well-suited for it. But, there's no hurry to be in that role."

Perez is currently sidelined with a strained left oblique -- an injury that might need a recovery period of four to six weeks. The Indians are hopeful that Perez will still be ready for Opening Day, but there are no guarantees. If the closer's injury lingers, manager Manny Acta said he would turn to Pestano as the temporary stopper.

Last season, during a solid rookie campaign that saw him claim the right-handed setup job, the 27-year-old Pestano posted a 2.32 ERA over 67 appearances for the Tribe. In 62 innings of work, he piled up 84 strikeouts against 24 walks, while limiting hitters to a .184 batting average.

Pestano worked as a closer throughout his Minor League career, and also at times during his time with Cal State Fullerton. Ever since he first got a taste of slamming the door in the ninth inning, Pestano began having aspirations of doing the same at some point in the Major Leagues.

"It's something I've been working forever, since I started closing in college," Pestano said. "The goal wasn't just to get to the big leagues -- it was to close games up here. Last year was a great stepping stone. I think setting up up here is a great way to actually prepare for doing that."

Pestano reiterated, however, that the best situation right now for the Indians is to have Perez at full strength and working the ninth.

"We're getting a little ahead of ourselves," Pestano said. "You've got to think about the human factor in all of this. C.P. is a very strong-willed person, and I wouldn't bet against him for being ready Opening Day.

"Hopefully, C.P. is healthy, and we get our bullpen order and we all get back to our same roles, because as people point out, when we're used in the roles that we're prepared for, we're a very, very dynamic unit.

"Having C.P. in the ninth is the best situation for our ballclub right now."