MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Former All-Star reliever Chris Perez has lost his job as the Cleveland Indians' closer.
Perez allowed four runs and four hits in Thursday's 6-5 win over Minnesota, retiring just two batters. He was 25 saves in 30 chances but has a 7.52 ERA since Aug. 1, raising his season average to 4.33
Manager Terry Francona said he hasn't ruled out a return to closing in the playoffs, if the Indians make it to the postseason. Cleveland began Friday one game ahead of Texas for the second AL wild-card berth.
"We want to get him back to helping us, because he's got a bunch of saves. You don't just give up on that," Francona said. "He says he's completely healthy. He's just not locating."
Francona indicated that he's likely to use several pitchers in the closer's role. Right-hander Justin Masterson, who leads the Indians with 14 wins, missed most of September because of a strained left oblique and returned with a perfect inning of relief against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
Masterson has been a starter almost exclusively in his four seasons-plus with the Indians. He made 53 relief appearances for Boston in 2008-09.
"The plan is for him to be a weapon, and we'll see where it takes us," Francona said. "And I think he'll enjoy every bit of that."
Francona also mentioned Joe Smith, Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw as ninth-inning options.
"If we play good baseball we can win, and if we don't we'll lose. That's how we've been and I don't think anything changes," Francona said. "This time of year there are no egos. It's just put your seat belt on, and let's go out and find a way to win."