SAN FRANCISCO -- Indians catching prospect Roberto Perez has enjoyed a torrid start to his season with Triple-A Columbus. This is more than just a strong first month for the catcher. It is an incredible comeback story.
Ross Atkins, Cleveland's vice president of player development, revealed Sunday that Perez dealt with Bell's palsy for most of last season, but played through the condition. For most of Perez's time at Triple-A last year, he suffered from partial paralysis of the left side of his face, resulting in problems with his left eye.
"About maybe a week after he was in Columbus, he got Bell's palsy in his face," Atkins said. "He literally could not close his eye for months. He had to put a patch on to sleep."
Atkins said the issue did not really calm down until Spring Training prior to this season.
"It was a slow, gradual improvement," Atkins said. "It was getting a little bit better very gradually. You can still see it in his face. When he smiles, you really see it. He couldn't sleep. It affected his ability to see the ball. He couldn't blink. The dryness, the fatigue, the mental drain."
The Indians discussed placing Perez on the Minor League disabled list, but the catcher insisted on playing through the condition.
"He's exceptionally tough and unselfish," Atkins said.
Through 15 games for Columbus this season, the 25-year-old Perez has hit .405 with four home runs, two doubles, 11 RBIs, nine walks and eight strikeouts for the Clippers. In 99 games between stints with Double-A Akron and Columbus last season, Perez hit just .200 with two homers and 34 RBIs, while dealing with Bell's palsy.
"He had a really tough time, man," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Those are the things that we probably know about that's not publicized. It's why we probably end up caring more about our guys, or wanting to come to their aid a little bit, or defend them a little bit.
"We see that side of it more often than maybe people know. That was tough, man."
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.