Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Francona dismisses situational closing


Tigers manager Jim Leyland, left, talks with Indians manager Terry Francona. Detroit leads the AL Central by five games.


CLEVELAND — Terry Francona listened to the question and responded, “Pardon me?”

So the Indians’ manager listened to the question again.

Monday night’s blown save by Cleveland closer Chris Perez began with a double by left-handed hitting Prince Fielder of the Tigers.

Since managers so often use situational relievers — in this hypothetical case, a lefty vs. a lefty — did Francona consider having someone else pitch before bringing in Perez, a right-hander?

“Not in the ninth inning,” Francona said. “That’s why you have a closer. You do that, you’ll have chaos. C.P. had saved 12 in a row and he blew a save and you want me to reinvent the game because of last night? Twelve in a row and now I’m getting asked about match-ups in the ninth? Come on.”

NIGHT OFF: Perez was not available for Tuesday night’s second game of the four-game series, but it had nothing to do with Monday’s outcome.

“That was three straight games,” Francona said of Perez, who recorded saves at Miami on Saturday and Sunday. “It’s not because he gave up runs. It’s because we’re not going to do something out of the ordinary.”

KLUBER HURT: Tribe starter Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.54 ERA), who checked Detroit on 7 1/​3 scoreless innings Monday, suffered a sprained middle finger on his right hand late in that game and was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday.

Cleveland recalled pitcher Matt Langwell from Triple-A Columbus. It is his third stint with the Indians this season.

LEYLAND COMMENTS: Detroit manager Jim Leyland’s pre-game session with the media lasted less than 90 seconds on Monday before he abruptly cleared the room after being asked a question about shortstop Jhonny Peralta’s 50-game suspension as part of the Biogenesis PED saga.

“Five minutes earlier [the media was] told I was not going to comment and then somebody walks in and asks me about it,” Leyland said Tuesday. “I thought it was disrespectful. I know it was to the discontent of the media that we sort of downplayed it … that there was no discussion in here. Dave Dombrowski is the head of our organization and he should speak, which he did. I chose not to. I don’t think it’s my place.”

After thinking about it for 24 hours, though, Leyland said he realized he at least owed the public, via the media, a comment.

“We will miss Jhonny Peralta,” Leyland said. “And that’s the end of it.”

DANDY DON: Don Kelly, not Andy Dirks, got the start in left field Tuesday night for the Tigers and Leyland said he was not playing hunches.

“Kelly is 8-for-21 with two home runs against him,” Leyland said, referring to Tribe starter Justin Masterson. “Dirks is hitting .280 against him. Kelly might strike out four times, but that’s why he’s playing.”

ON THE MEND: Tigers shortstop Omar Infante, out since July 4 with a left ankle sprain, began a rehab assignment with the Mud Hens Tuesday night. Pitcher Octavio Dotel, who went on the disabled list on April 20 with right elbow inflammation, reports to rehab with Class A Lakeland today. For the Indians, pitcher Josh Tomlin, who has not pitched since off-season elbow surgery, is scheduled to start for Double-A Akron.

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