GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians are one step closer to getting back their closer.
On Friday morning, Chris Perez had his first bullpen session since straining his left side in his first bullpen of the spring on Feb. 23, and the 10-minute workout was deemed a success.
Perez said he eased his way into it but turned his fastball loose late in the session and didn't experience any problems.
"It felt good," said Perez, who saved a career-high 36 games in 2011, his first season as the team's full-time ninth-inning man. "I'm not 100 percent yet. I wouldn't expect to be. I felt like it was the first bullpen of Spring Training -- you know, kind of rusty, not hitting all my spots.
"But the side felt amazing. It felt better than I thought it would."
The plan for Perez is to throw another bullpen session on Sunday, which will be followed by a live batting practice session and then, if all goes well, his 2011 Cactus League debut.
Indians manager Manny Acta said a healthy closer would ideally get between 10 and 12 innings in a spring, but that Perez could still be ready for the beginning of the regular season even with only six or seven frames under his belt. Acta added that he liked what he saw from Perez on Friday.
"He put good effort into it and threw the ball very good with good life on his fastball," Acta said. "It's very encouraging to see him do that."
When asked if he could be ready to close on Opening Day with a limited spring workload, Perez laughed.
"I'm going to have to be," Perez said. "No other choice. But I really can't tell you a set number of outings [to be ready]. It's always different. Last year I was ready halfway through Spring Training. ... Two years ago I probably wasn't ready even when Opening Day came, but I figured out a way to get outs when it started.
"Hopefully this year I can get it all done within six or seven outings and be ready for Opening Day."