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Myers to return as reliever, Perez winding down rehab

Myers to return as reliever, Perez winding down rehab

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Myers to return as reliever, Perez winding down rehab

CLEVELAND -- The Indians have a pair of sidelined relievers closing in on a return to the team's bullpen. One was expected. The other came as a bit of a surprise on Sunday.

Following a 5-3 loss to the Twins, Indians manager Terry Francona noted that All-Star closer Chris Perez will likely make his final Minor League rehab appearance on Tuesday or Wednesday in his comeback from a right shoulder issue. Francona also noted that right-hander Brett Myers, who opened the season as the team's No. 3 starter, is being converted to a relief role.

Myers -- on the 60-day disabled list with a right elbow injury -- is scheduled to throw one inning of relief for Class A (short season) Mahoning Valley on Monday. Right-hander Blake Wood, who is coming back from right elbow surgery, is also slated to pitch one inning in a rehab assignment in the same game.

"[Myers] is going to prepare in a bullpen role," Francona said. "I think we all felt with the down time he's had, his best way to contribute is probably to go to the bullpen. To try to get him ramped up to 100 pitches, if there's any hiccup at all in that process, we'd probably lose him for the rest of the year."

Myers, 32, signed a one-year contract worth $7 million to pitch in Cleveland's rotation over the offseason. After opening the season 0-3 with an 8.02 ERA for the Tribe, he landed on the disabled list on April 20 with the elbow issue. During a previous Minor League rehab this season, Myers encountered a setback and was temporarily shut down.

Myers has experience as a late-inning reliever -- he saved 21 games in 2007 for the Phillies and 19 a year ago for the Astros -- but the Indians would likely view him as a long reliever. In 129 career relief outings, Myers has a 3.69 ERA. Last season, he posted a 3.31 ERA in 70 games between stints with the Astros and White Sox.

Perez, who has been on the 15-day DL since May 27 due to a shoulder injury, threw a simulated game with Double-A Akron on Sunday morning. The two-time All-Star closer is eligible for activation, but Francona said the team wants him to log one more Minor League rehab appearance before rejoining the Indians' bullpen.

"It went really well. He was thrilled," Francona said of Perez's simulated game. "We want to see how he bounces back first of all and then we'll figure it out."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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