Indians catcher Roberto Perez was diagnosed with a concussion after taking a foul ball off the mask in last night’s game against the Athletics, manager Terry Francona told reporters after the game (link via Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer). While Francona called it a “mild” concussion and suggested the team will take a day before determining whether to place Perez on the 7-day injured list, though clubs typically err on the side of caution with regard to head injuries. Fellow catcher Eric Haase is already on his way to join the club from Triple-A Columbus, Francona indicated.
The 30-year-old Perez has taken over as Cleveland’s top catching option in 2019 following the offseason trade of Yan Gomes, and while he’s never previously been much of a threat at the plate, he’s enjoyed a solid start to the season. In 117 plate appearances, Perez is hitting .228/.319/.426 with six home runs and a pair of doubles. He’s always been able to draw a walk, but Perez has slashed his strikeout rate by four percent over last season and upped his walk rate a bit while showing the best home-run pop of his career to date. He’s also gone 6-for-18 in stopping stolen-base attempts and posted above-average framing marks (per Baseball Prospectus).
Given that improved offense and his typically solid brand of glovework, an absence for Perez would sting perhaps more than many Indians fans would’ve thought entering the season. Cleveland’s other catcher, Kevin Plawecki, has managed only a .143/.250/.286 batting line — albeit in a mere 56 plate appearances.
Haase, 26, is on the 40-man roster, so the Indians would only need to make a 25-man move to bring him up to the Majors. He’s out to a nice start of his own in Columbus, having batted .245/.341/.562 with 11 home runs in 129 plate appearances. His 31 percent strikeout rate is too high but is also a mirror image of the rate at which he’s fanned dating back to Class-A Advanced in 2015. He’s offset that mark a bit with a 13.2 percent walk rate and the best power production of his career.