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“It came after the season's second-largest crowd, 29,799. Including a sellout of 43,190 for the April 5 opener, the Indians' 15,188 average through 22 home dates is a far cry from the team-record 455 consecutive sellouts in the late 1990s. "Nobody wants to play in front of 5,000 fans," said Perez on Saturday. "We know the weather stinks, but people see that (low attendance). 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 said Sunday he hadn't spoken to Beltran or others who signed elsewhere, adding that in conversation with teammates, opponents and a few former Indians, he drew the consensus that Cleveland is not now a popular place to play. "Baseball is supposed to be fun," Perez said. "It is like that in Philadelphia every day. It helps you. You draw energy from the fans." Shapiro countered by pointing out that several current Indians enjoy the city and have signed long-term contracts to stay. He thinks the current controversy will blow over and hopefully not impact Perez or the ballclub. "I really feel like it's a moment in time, a story for right now," Shapiro said. "If you polled our players, by and large, what you'd see is a largely universal appreciation for our fans." Perez said he had no ulterior motive for his comments and he isn't trying to draw attention to himself. "It's just so frustrating," Perez said. "I've been here since 2009, was one of the first guys in the (rebuilding) trades. If this was 2010, I wouldn't say anything. We deserved to be booed, we were bad." Cleveland went 65-97 in 2009 and 69-93 the next year, then spent much of last season in first place until fading to finish 80-82. They entered play Sunday 23-17. Perez has done his part to boost sagging attendance. He has bought six season tickets to give away, understanding how the area has been hit hard by the economy and that some fans can't buy tickets. He doesn't, however, comprehend the overall apathy. "I don't understand the negativity, in general," Perez said. "Why? We have a first-place team. How many teams in the country would want that right now? "You think the Tigers are happy? The Tigers are in third place. We're in first place. Enjoy it."
Nobody wants to play in front of 5,000 fans. We know the weather stinks, but people see that (low attendance). Other players know that.” -- Indians closer Chris Perez