CLEVELAND -- Roberto Perez's arrival in Cleveland on Tuesday was the first step in his Major League career, but also the completion of an incredible comeback for the young catcher.
The Indians selected Perez's contract from Triple-A Columbus prior to their game against the Yankees, bringing him to the big leagues as the Tribe's new backup catcher. A year ago, Perez was playing through Bell's palsy and enduring an extremely trying season in the Minors.
"It's a long process and a slow process," Perez said. "I had to wait until it got better. It was really disappointing last year, but I'm just glad to be here today."
In 53 games for Columbus this season, the 25-year-old Perez hit .305 with eight home runs, 20 extra-base hits, 20 walks, 29 runs, 43 RBIs and a .922 OPS. That is a drastic improvement over his showing in 2013, when he hit just .200 across 99 games split between Double-A Akron and Triple-A.
While at Columbus last year, though, Perez began suffering symptoms of Bell's palsy, including partial paralysis of the left side of his face, resulting in problems with his left eye. Perez could not blink and was forced to sleep with a towel over his face in order to get rest. The issue continued for months, but began to subside over the offseason.
"Last year was a tough year for me," Perez said. "But I decided this year is a new year. I'm just enjoying it. ... My confidence is back. I'm not really thinking about it. I'm just playing the game hard, and good things happen when you play hard."
In order to add Perez to the active roster, Cleveland optioned extra outfielder Tyler Holt back to Columbus. The Indians designated Triple-A reliever Mark Lowe for assignment to clear a space on the team's 40-man roster for the young catcher.
The Indians had a need for a new backup catcher after they designated veteran George Kottaras for assignment on Monday, following the acquisition of outfielder Chris Dickerson in a trade with the Pirates. Cleveland's preference is to keep Carlos Santana -- the backup catcher at the start of the season -- at first base for the foreseeable future.
"It was kind of a little bittersweet. We had to let George go," manager Terry Francona said. "Perez, he's having a phenomenal year -- offensively, defensively. It's probably time to get him to the big leagues. ... I think early in the year, having George here made sense organizationally, letting Perez get those at-bats and get the work and develop. Now I think we feel like he can come here and help us."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.