<
>

Indians sign first baseman Perez to one-year deal

CLEVELAND -- Having failed to obtain a top right-handed bat,
the Cleveland Indians figure to use Eduardo Perez in a platoon at
first base with Ben Broussard.

"I would have preferred to sign another impact bat to add to
this team somewhere," general manager Mark Shapiro said Thursday,
a day after Perez finalized a one-year contract. "Sometimes we're
forced to be creative in the way we look at things."
Perez is guaranteed $1,825,000 -- a $1.7 million salary this year
and a $125,000 buyout of a 2007 team option. Shapiro said Perez is
likely to play some in the outfield and get about 350 at-bats.
"I'm just happy they consider me as a piece of the puzzle,"
Perez said.
Cleveland tried to get Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles and Eric Byrnes to boost its offense, but they all wound up elsewhere.
Perez, the 36-year-old son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez, batted
.255 with 11 homers and 28 RBI last season for the Tampa Bay and
has a .263 average in his career against left-handers with 47
homers and 168 RBI.
Cleveland probably won't make any other moves before spring
training.
"We're very comfortable going into spring training with the
club we've got right now," Shapiro said.
During the offseason, Cleveland's biggest moves were to sign
pitchers Paul Byrd and Jason Johnson and re-sign closer Bob Wickman. The Indians also signed outfielder Todd Hollandsworth,
infielder Lou Merloni, catcher Einar Diaz, and pitchers Steve Karsay and Danny Graves.
"We've done what we had to do, but we didn't necessarily make
some of the improvements that I wanted to make," Shapiro said.
Cleveland designated pitcher Brian Tallet for assignment to make
room for Perez. The Indians have 10 days to trade him, release him
or send him outright to the minors.
Tallet spent most of last season at Triple-A Buffalo and made
two appearances for the Indians. The 28-year-old left-hander had
reconstructive elbow surgery at the end of 2003.