GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- On page 169 of the Indians’ new media guide there’s a quick recap of Chris Perez’s 2012. It reads: "All-Star had another solid season on the mound."
Off it, it was anything but stellar.
Perez lost control.
If he wasn’t railing at Cleveland fans for not supporting the team, the colorful closer was criticizing the team’s owners for not spending money. He irritated opponents on social media and with primal screams and fist pumps, and Perez got caught on video yelling obscenities at a fan taunting him in Oakland.
He saved 39 games, but Perez couldn’t stop himself. He got into trouble far worse than any late-inning jam he ever encountered.
"It got away from me," he said Thursday, sitting at his locker as teammates trickled into the clubhouse following a morning workout. "Hopefully, none of that happens this year."
This season, Perez promises the only heat he’ll deliver will be to the plate.
With an offseason to reflect on what transpired during Cleveland’s miserable 68-94 season, and an equally depressing one for the 27-year-old, Perez said he’s learned some valuable lessons.
It may be too late for him to take back anything he said or change his past, so Perez will focus on what’s ahead.
"I don’t have any regrets, but I definitely could have handled it all differently," he said. "I definitely don’t
With his scraggly beard and long hair, Perez certainly looks the part of the rebel right-hander he has become. With the ball in his hand, he’s fearless, blowing batters away with a wicked fastball that has allowed him to record 98 saves the past three seasons.
But it was some barbs he fired at Indians fans last May that sparked months of drama.
After he was booed during a home game at Progressive Field, Perez vented about the club’s poor attendance. He questioned a lack of support from Cleveland fans and wondered why they didn’t back the Indians like they did the Browns, one of the NFL’s worst teams.
Perez went on to hypothesize that maybe free agents stayed away from Cleveland because of the fans’ indifference.
With a chance to explain his comments the next day, and perhaps even apologize, Perez instead took things a step further.
"I was just fed up with everything," he explained. "But that’s how I felt. It was all heart. "
At various points during the season, he met with team president Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti, who did all they could to reel Perez in. He had become a distraction, divisive to Indians fans -- some who loved him, others who wanted him traded -- and the club sought to stop things from getting any worse.
Perez seemed to get the message, but late in the season, as the losses mounted and the Indians fell from contention, he complained in an interview that owners Paul and Larry Dolan weren’t making the necessary financial commitment to keep the team competitive in the AL Central.
Those remarks set off another round of meetings, and Perez said that during that time he didn’t care what happened.