CLEVELAND -- A few days after Rays right-hander Alex Cobb was struck in the right ear by a fast-moving liner, Indians manager Terry Francona discussed the delicate safety issue facing Major League Baseball.
Francona couldn't say whether incidents such as those involving Cobb or J.A. Happ or Brandon McCarthy are happening with more frequency, or if they're simply being noticed more. The skipper did say that, whatever measures are taken, the league should take care not to make pitchers uncomfortable on the mound.
"I think something like a skullcap -- in the meantime -- couldn't hurt," Francona said before Monday's series opener against the Royals. "The old players used to wear them. If you got something that was comfortable, even though it wouldn't be the end-all, be-all, it wouldn't help every situation, it might alleviate or ease some of impact on some of the balls."
Francona doesn't have a long term answer for how to more effectively keep pitchers out of harm's way. But he seemed concerned about what's happened to so many hurlers and open to any practical possibility that might cut down on the likelihood of a pitcher sustaining brain trauma, as McCarthy did last September.
"A concussion's not good, but a concussion is better than something worse," Francona said. "I'd be in favor of whatever they can do that doesn't get in the way, and that's difficult."
Tribe's Perez eyeing Friday return to bullpen
CLEVELAND -- Closer Chris Perez believes he'll be ready to return to Cleveland's bullpen on Friday after just one more rehab appearance.
Perez is scheduled to throw an inning for Double-A Akron on Tuesday. This past Sunday, he tossed a scoreless frame for Class A Lake County, allowing two hits and notching one strikeout. Perez was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 27 with a right shoulder strain.
"It's getting better every day," Perez said before Monday's series opener against Kansas City. "I should be active on Friday."
Tribe manager Terry Francona didn't specifically say Friday would be the day for Perez, who has a 4.32 ERA and is 6-for-8 in save opportunities in 17 outings for the Indians.
Sunday's outing in Lake County marked the first time Perez had thrown to live hitters since May 26, when the closer blew a three-run, ninth-inning lead in Boston.
"He actually felt really good," Francona said. "He didn't command real well. He said he felt rusty. [He] came in today, played catch and felt really good, which we were thrilled with.
"He understands that when he comes back, we want to insert him into the ninth-inning role, and if he's going to do that, he needs to be sharp."
Tribe playing it safe with Swisher's shoulder
CLEVELAND -- For the second day in a row, Nick Swisher wasn't in the Tribe's starting lineup, held out to nurse an ailing left shoulder as the Kansas City Royals arrived on Monday for a three-game series.
Indians manager Terry Francona said Swisher's shoulder was examined on Sunday and the results revealed no structural changes. Swisher received a cortisone shot on Monday. Cleveland hasn't ruled out placing him on the 15-day disabled list, but the club is confident Swisher will return to the field on Friday.
"We'll go all on him, on his symptoms," Francona said. "It's all dependent on how he feels. If he feels better and the medical staff OKs him, we'll play him before that."
Swisher last played on Saturday and appeared to aggravate his shoulder in the fifth inning. The first baseman/right fielder has struggled over his last 15 games, going 6-for-64 with 18 strikeouts. On the season, Swisher is hitting .237 (53-for-224) with seven home runs and 24 RBIs.
"I don't think it helped it," said Francona, referring to the injury's effect on Swisher's swing. "To what extent and when and where, it's hard to tell."
The sore left shoulder caused Swisher to miss three games between April 30 and May 3. Swisher said his shoulder felt great after those few days off, though it seems he never fully healed.
"With maintenance moving forward, he'll be able to kind of stay ahead of it," Francona said. "That's kind of what we're hoping for."
Quote to note
"It's a nice thing to think about or remind yourself when you're in one of those streaks where you're 0-for-your-last-20. This is one of the peaks, and you know the valleys are going to be there down the road, too. You just want to resort back to weeks like this where you were feeling real good and kind of take note of what you're doing the whole week and try to go back to that every time you're in a little scuffle."
-- Jason Kipnis, on his 10-game hitting streak entering Monday, during which he logged a .432 average (16-for-37) with a home run and eight RBIs.
• Over the past seven games entering Monday, the Tribe's starting pitchers compiled a 3.30 ERA while averaging about 6 1/3 innings per outing. When an Indians starter has gone at least six innings, Cleveland is 26-13.
• The Indians committed five errors over their past two games. Entering Monday, Cleveland and Kansas City had both made 41 errors, tied for fifth-most in the American League.
• On Monday, the Indians held the first of two Puppypalooza events at Progressive Field, with the next scheduled for Sept. 9. All fans were invited to bring their dogs to the game, and the first 300 hounds that showed up were able to participate in an on-field Puppypalooza Parade before the first pitch.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.