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Tribe's Perez eyeing Friday return to bullpen

Tribe's Perez eyeing Friday return to bullpen

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Tribe's Perez eyeing Friday return to bullpen

CLEVELAND -- Closer Chris Perez believes he'll be ready to return to Cleveland's bullpen on Friday after just one more rehab appearance.

Perez is scheduled to throw an inning for Double-A Akron on Tuesday. This past Sunday, he tossed a scoreless frame for Class A Lake County, allowing two hits and notching one strikeout. Perez was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 27 with a right shoulder strain.

"It's getting better every day," Perez said before Monday's series opener against Kansas City. "I should be active on Friday."

Tribe manager Terry Francona didn't specifically say Friday would be the day for Perez, who has a 4.32 ERA and is 6-for-8 in save opportunities in 17 outings for the Indians.

Sunday's outing in Lake County marked the first time Perez had thrown to live hitters since May 26, when the closer blew a three-run, ninth-inning lead in Boston.

"He actually felt really good," Francona said. "He didn't command real well. He said he felt rusty. [He] came in today, played catch and felt really good, which we were thrilled with.

"He understands that when he comes back, we want to insert him into the ninth-inning role, and if he's going to do that, he needs to be sharp."

Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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