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CHRIS PEREZ: “CLEVELAND FANS SHOULD SUPPORT THE TEAM”
Wed, 23 May 2012 10:58 PM EDT

The All-Star closer failed to back down Sunday from affirmations made Saturday querying why fans aren’t turning out to see the 1st-place Indians and why some in the sparse crowds boo the local team. NFL betting lines

“The fans are going to come, I know that,” Perez asserted. “It’s simply a slap in the face when you’re in 1st place and last in attendance. Last. Not 25th or 26th. Last.”

The right-hander claimed he has been irritated by small crowds for a long period of time and that it came to a head when he was booed because 2 men reached base while he at last saved a win over Seattle.

“That was the last straw,” declared Perez, an outspoken, gregarious team leader who regularly uses social media to have interaction with fans.

“I got lots of messages and some of it was funny,” Perez said of overnight reaction by followers.

While the Indians inspire Perez’s assertive type of challenging opposing hitters, the disputative declarations didn’t sit well.

Team president Mark Shapiro recounted the organization differs with the way Perez spoke, adding the Indians do get fan support. Shapiro declared the reliever’s words come from a wish to win and get more followers to come to the ballpark.

“We obviously disagree with him regarding our followers,” Shapiro said. “We appreciate our admirers. We respect our fans.”

Shapiro said the 26-year-old’s declarations were likely borne from disappointment combined with a need to be successful.

“He’s been one of the more dominant closers,” Shapiro said. “What drive him to be successful in that role are emotion and competitiveness and enthusiasm, and I believe a lot of that was behind what he revealed.

“It’s clear that what’s behind the emotion is how great he feels our current situation is — how superb he feels the team is, the ballpark is, and his need for more people to experience it.

“He’s asserting, ‘Pay attention. Look what we have got here.’”

After earning his 13th save Saturday by striking out the side on ten pitches to clinch a 2-0 win over the Miami Marlins, Perez criticized fans who boo the home team and expounded negative vibes are a reason big-name free agents such as Carlos Beltran don’t sign with Cleveland.

It came after the season’s 2nd-largest crowd, 29,799. Including a sellout of 43,190 for the April 5 opener, the Indians ‘ 15,188 averages thru 22 home dates is miles away from the team-record 455 consecutive sellouts in the late 1990s.

“Nobody wants to play in front of 5,000 followers,” recounted Perez on Saturday. “We know the weather stinks, but people see that (low audience). Other players know that.

“You had a choice of playing in St. Louis where you get 40,000 like Beltran chose to do, or you can come to Cleveland.”

Perez recounted Sunday he hadn’t spoken to Beltran or others who signed someplace else, adding that in talks with teammates, opponents and one or two former Indians, he drew the feeling that Cleveland is not now a preferred place to play.

“Baseball is meant to be fun,” Perez said. “It is like that in Philadelphia every day. It helps you. You draw energy from the fans.”


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