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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez has been scratched from the World Baseball Classic and could miss the start of the regular season after suffering a strained right shoulder in spring training.
The Indians said Perez will take a break of seven to 10 days before starting a throwing program. He is expected to resume pitching in Cactus League games in three to four weeks, which could jeopardize his availability for Cleveland's season opener in Toronto on April 2.
"I'm not saying nothing," Perez told reporters Friday as he drove out of Cleveland's spring training complex. He later tweeted: "Small hurdle at an in-opportune time. I feel better now than I did last year with the oblique..Still plenty of time."
Perez, an All-Star in each of the past two seasons, ranked second in the American League with 39 saves in 2012. He is fourth in franchise history with 99 saves.
General manager Chris Antonetti said Perez hurt himself while pitching in a recent spring training game, and the Indians chose to shut him down after he was examined by trainer Lonnie Soloff and the team's medical staff.
Antonetti said the Indians are hopeful that Perez will be ready by Opening Day.
"We think so, but we'll have to see,'' Antonetti said. "The most important thing is to make sure he puts the injury behind him, and once he comes back, he's ready to go.''
Vinnie Pestano, who went 3-3 with a 2.57 ERA, 76 strikeouts in 70 innings and two saves last season, is the most likely candidate to assume the closer role in the event Perez isn't ready for the season opener. Pestano is scheduled to leave Cleveland's camp Sunday to pitch for Team USA in the WBC.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.