Indians’ Perez out months after finger surgery

CLEVELAND — Indians catcher Roberto Perez will be sidelined for months following surgery on a fractured right ring finger.

Perez played in pain for several weeks with the fracture, which happened when he got crossed up by reliever James Karinchak on April 14 in Chicago. Perez broke the finger on his throwing hand when he caught the pitch barehanded.

He left the Indians’ series in Kansas City to visit hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, who performed the operation. Graham did surgery on Perez’s broken right thumb almost exactly five years ago. He missed two months after that procedure.

Manager Terry Francona couldn’t provide a definitive timeline on how long Perez will be out this time but said, “It’s not weeks, but months.”

Perez’s loss is a big blow to the Indians, who lead the American League Central after winning nine of 11. He is a two-time Gold Glove winner and handles one of the league’s best pitching staffs.

Austin Hedges will move into Perez’s primary starting spot with Rene Rivera as his backup. Rivera had three hits in his first start for Cleveland on Thursday as the Indians completed their first four-game sweep in Kansas City since 1960.

Perez’s batting average dropped nearly 100 points after he got hurt. Francona said he could tell Perez was pulling off pitches he would normally swing at, and the injury clearly bothered him when he had to make hard throws to bases.

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