He sees no reason why it can’t happen at third base following the loss of Jose Ramirez for rest of the season after he underwent surgery Monday for a broken hamate bone in his right hand.
“It’s tough, man," Perez said. "We’re losing an All-Star who is having a great second half. We need whoever is playing, (Yu) Chang, (Mike) Freeman, whoever, to step up. To try and help us win games.
"We’ve done it with the pitching staff. We lost Corey Kluber, we lost Carlos Carrasco and we lost Mike Clevinger. Now everybody is just helping us win games. It’s a tough loss. I know he will come back. He’s a big part of our team and what we’re trying to accomplish.
“But I trust our guys and I know we’re going to find ways to win ballgames. We’ll miss him, but I think we’ll find a way to get the job done.”
Clevinger has rejoined the rotation. Kluber (right forearm, left oblique) and Carrasco (leukemia) are still on the injured list. Carrasco could be activated on Friday when rosters expand.
Ramirez is out for five to seven weeks. There are 31 games left in the regular season. Unless the Indians make the postseason — and are in the Division Series, not the Wild Card Game — Ramirez’s 2019 season is over.
Manager Terry Francona is not sugar coating the loss of Ramirez.
“The best way to go about it, like we always do, is just try to win tonight,” he said. "Josie is a great player. When you lose guys that good, it doesn’t really help you. Freeman has worked his butt off to be ready whenever we need him. He and Chang will split some time. Hopefully, they can pick up some of the slack.
“The best thing to do is to just play the game. If you try to do more, then you get into trouble. You start trying to go 3-for-2 or trying to hit five-run homers. That doesn’t work very well.”
Ramirez, who was injured Saturday in the first inning on a swing, is hitting .254 (120-for-473) with 33 doubles, 20 homers and 75 RBIs for the season. He overcame a terrible first half (.218, seven homers, 35 RBIs) to lead the Indians back into contention.
He’s hitting .327 (51-for-156) with 18 doubles, 13 homers and 40 RBIs since the All-Star break.
“To be honest, every guy who has come up this year has done the job,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. "When I was down, everybody did their job. That’s what our motto has been the last couple of years.
"If somebody goes down, pick him up and compete on a daily basis. I know Josie is a huge part of our team and our success. But we can’t just sit back and say, ‘Oh, man, we’re done,' because we’re not. Chang came in the first day he was here (Sunday) and had a double of hits and scored two runs. It was huge.
“With Freeman every time somebody gets an off-day, he comes in and gets a couple of hits. That’s how I see it. Every guy who comes up is going to be a big part of our success. September (expanded rosters) is coming up soon and I’m sure we’ll add a couple of players who will help us win. It will be like the A’s do it. They just put a bunch a player together and they win.”
Said Carlos Santana, “I’m sad for him. We all know what kind of player Jose Ramirez is. But it happened. He got hurt. He had surgery. But we still have a great team and we have to continue.”
Chang, who played shortstop, third and second for Class AAA Columbus this year, singled and tripled on Sunday against the Royals. He hit .253 (64-for-253) with 15 doubles, nine homers and 39 RBIs for the Clippers this season.
Freeman is hitting .279 (33 for 118) with six doubles, four home runs and 20 RBIs for the Tribe. He started the year at Columbus. He got the start at third base on Tuesday night and was 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored in the Tribe’s 10-1 win.