2:50 PM: It appears the Indians will be without their starting catcher for quite some time. Manager Terry Francona told the media, including the Athletic’s Zack Meisel (Twitter links), that Cleveland expects Perez to be out for 8-10 weeks.
2:04 PM: Indians catcher Roberto Perez underwent surgery to repair the fractured ring finger on his right hand, tweets Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon-Journal. The team has yet to provide a timeline as to when Perez might be cleared to return to action, but Cleveland will now be without its top catcher for the foreseeable future.
Perez suffered the injury when he got crossed up with hard-throwing James Karinchak, and while he tried to play through the issue for awhile, he eventually was placed on the injured list earlier this week. He met with a specialist this week, Lewis notes, and clearly the surgical route wound up being the recommended course of treatment.
The injury initially occurred more than three weeks ago at a time when Perez was batting .238/.448/.524 with a pair of home runs through his first 29 plate appearances. Unsurprisingly, his bid to remain productive with a broken finger didn’t go particularly well; in 44 plate appearances since that time, Perez has just three hits and a dismal .075/.159/.175 slash.
Cleveland is temporarily losing one of the game’s best defensive catchers, although one of Perez’s primary competitors for that distinction is his own teammate, Austin Hedges. With Perez sidelined, Hedges figures to get the lion’s share of playing time. His bat isn’t likely to match that of a healthy Perez, as he’s mustered only a .118/.189/.294 output in 2021 and a .166/.243/.306 line overall dating back to 2019. Hedges’ glove, game-calling and framing should continue to work to the advantage of what is yet another high-quality Indians pitching staff, however.
That’s especially true given that he figures to share time with 37-year-old Rene Rivera, who was selected to the MLB roster to replace Perez. Rivera, a glove-first backstop himself, won’t provide much with the bat but will give Terry Francona another quality battery-mate for his pitchers.