I always refrain from making a prediction about the season during Spring Training because it's such a period of unknown. You never know who is going to get hurt. Put the Indians down for their first significant injury, Chris Perez is out.
Perez strained his shoulder in his outing on February 26th. As of now the team says he'll be out 3-4 weeks and if the coast is clear after that he'll begin what they call a Return To Throwing Program. It's fancy talk for "rehab." If things go according to that plan Perez could be ready for Opening Day on April 2nd. Relievers don't need a lot of time to get ready for the year. Didn't Jose Mesa once go from the courtroom to the mound? The key word in all of that is "if." You cannot assume he'll be back in 3-4 weeks. He's a pitcher and we're talking about his arm. Assume nothing and prepare for the worst. I'm not even a pessimist and I believe that when it come to pitchers and arms.
The bullpen is one of the pillars of strength for this team, it's probably their best asset. Perez is critical not just because he's the guy that handles the 9th inning, but also because he's the reason you can afford to use Pestano in the 8th. It's why I've never understood why people wanted to trade Perez and use Pestano as the closer. Know how to weaken a good bullpen? Start getting rid of good pitchers. If Pestano is closing, who is pitching the 8th? Joe Smith? Great, that could work, but now who is going to pitch in the 7th? The 6th? Great bullpens build a bridge to their closer. Every piece of that bridge is critical and the more pieces you have the better you are.
If Perez has any kind of a setback that bleeds into the regular season the Indians could have problems. Pestano will likely be fine in the 9th, but getting the game to him won't be a turnkey operation (as it is now). You can't assume other relievers will step up. If starters go 7 innings it won't be as big of a deal, but is this a rotation you can count on for that? Remember, we're talking about the pen helping the rotation. If Perez misses a considerable amount of time who knows what would happen.
Am I panicking? No. Am I concerned? You bet your ascot I am.