Perez on track for Opening Day

Perez on track for Opening Day

MESA, Ariz. -- Indians closer Chris Perez never doubted that he would be ready in time for Opening Day. With the season's first game a little more than a week away, it appears he will indeed meet that goal.

Following a pair of successful outings in Minor League games, Perez is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut when Cleveland hosts the Rockies on Thursday afternoon at Goodyear Ballpark. The left-oblique injury that sidelined the closer early in camp has not caused any lingering issues over the last five weeks.

"He's right on schedule to be ready for Opening Day, unless he has a setback," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We're going on him. He's feeling good. Our medical staff is on board. His velocity was fine the other day, so we'll go on him outing by outing. But right now, he's on schedule to be ready for Opening Day."

Perez injured his side while working through his first bullpen session of the spring on Feb. 23. He resumed pitching off a mound on March 16 and has since advanced through live batting practice sessions and Minor League games.

The closer said on Wednesday that he has not felt any discomfort in his side since that first mound session.

That being the case, the Indians are expecting their Opening Day bullpen to include Perez, who saved 36 games in 40 chances last year and earned a spot on the American League All-Star team. If Perez were to suffer a setback, Acta has noted that setup man Vinnie Pestano would act as the temporary closer.