Chris Perez getting closer to returning to mound

Chris Perez getting closer to returning to mound

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians closer Chris Perez continues to make progress on his return to the mound. On Saturday, Perez took another step forward in his throwing program without experiencing any lingering issues in his oblique.

"I feel good," Perez said. "Right now, everything is based on how I'm feeling each day and I'm feeling really good."

Perez strained his left oblique during his first bullpen session of the spring on Feb. 23, forcing Cleveland to shut him down for a brief period of time. The right-hander has since resumed building up his throwing, advancing to playing catch from a distance of 105 feet during Saturday's morning workout.

The next step in Perez's program calls for throwing long toss at a distance of 120 feet -- likely on Sunday or Monday. From there, the closer would likely move back on a mound for the first time since the injury, beginning with a couple of bullpen sessions, before moving to live batting practice sessions.

There is still no announceed timetable for Perez's return to Cactus League games, but the Indians remain optimistic about his chances of being ready in time for Opening Day. In the event that Perez is not ready for the start of the regular season, Tribe manager Manny Acta has indicated that setup man Vinnie Pestano would serve as the temporary closer.

Last year, in his first full season as the Indians closer, Perez notched 36 saves in 40 opportunities and made the American League All-Star team for the first time in his career.