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DETROIT — The Indians have found a wag-the-dog distraction from their declining recent play.
A shipment of marijuana addressed to All-Star closer Chris Perez’s dog is not what they had in mind.
Perez and his wife, Melanie, were charged Friday with misdemeanor drug possession after a package containing more than a half-pound of pot — mailed in the name of the family dog, Brody — was sent to their home in Rocky River earlier this week.
Tribe manager Terry Francona said before Friday’s game that he has spoken with Perez, who remains on the disabled list with an injured right shoulder. But he declined further comment, saying only, “We’re really not allowed to talk about it.”
“Clearly, we take these matters seriously and are disappointed whenever there is any negative attention brought to the Indians organization or one of our players,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said in a statement. “We understand and respect that there is an ongoing legal process that we will allow to evolve.”
The latest chapter in the saga of the Indians’ most polarizing player began when police, alerted by postal inspectors of suspicious packages bound for Perez’s rental home, arranged for an undercover officer to make the delivery.
Melanie Perez, whose maiden name is Baum, accepted two packages addressed to “Brody Baum” around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Asked by the officer about the name on the package, Melanie Perez “advised the addressee name was good and stated the parcels were for the dog,” according to investigative reports.
Chris Perez, who was not present for the delivery, soon arrived home and left with his wife for a nearby restaurant. While the couple was out, police searched the home, which was occupied by a baby-sitter and Perez’s two children.
Officers were waiting upon their return and asked Chris Perez about any drugs or weapons in his home.
“Perez responded that he had ‘personal use’ marijuana in the basement and volunteered to direct the officers to the location of it,” an investigative report said. “He pointed out a number of items of paraphernalia along with two separate ‘mason’ jars containing a green vegetable matter suspected of being marijuana.”
Perez is unlikely to be disciplined by MLB, per the sport’s latest drug agreement with the players’ union. His attorney, Terry Gilbert, said in a statement the Perezes would plead not guilty.
A DIFFERENT ERA: There was no MLB draft when Jim Leyland signed with the Tigers in 1963 for a salary of about $400 a month — a payday that made the newly minted Perrysburg High School graduate feel like the “richest [guy] you ever saw in your life.”
Where would he have been selected today?
“I’d still be waiting,” Leyland said.
“But you were all-Northern Lakes League,” a reporter reminded him.
“You bet I was,” the Tigers manager said, smiling.
Leyland spent seven years as a catcher in the Tigers’ farm system but never made it to the majors. Leyland ranks 15th all-time with 1,708 wins as manager.
EXTRA INNINGS: With one more win, Max Scherzer would become the first Tigers starter since Vern Kennedy in 1938 to start the season 9-0. He just hopes the past is not prologue. Kennedy finished the year 12-9 and was traded to the St. Louis Browns in a 10-team deal the next spring. ... Austin Jackson continues to test his ailing hamstring with light running, but Leyland said he has “no idea” when the centerfielder will begin a rehab assignment. Jackson has been on the disabled list since mid-May.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.