Perez Passes Test In Brooklyn, Big Club Next?

Published on: 29th June, 2009


Perez Strikes Out Six in Five Innings  | read this item

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NEW YORK — Left-handed pitcher Oliver Perez took a big step toward returning to the Mets with a solid performance on Sunday in his latest rehab start.

Perez threw 72 pitches in five scoreless innings for Class A Brooklyn, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out six.

Before the start, the Mets had talked of giving Perez two or three more rehab outings in order to get his pitch count over 90. The left-hander’s outing on Sunday — a significant improvement over the six runs he allowed in three innings on Monday — could expedite that process.

It is not clear whether Perez will automatically regain his spot in the Mets’ starting rotation, as both Fernando Nieve and Tim Redding have pitched well as fill-ins over the past month.

“I feel really good and I’m very happy about how I threw today,” said Perez. “I think I’ll need one more start and I’ll be ready to go.”

Mets’ manager Jerry Manuel, who has lots of roster issues these days, is looking forward to Perez’ return to a weakened pitching staff.

“It depends on how well he’s pitching,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “If Ollie is back the way he was last year at this time, then I’d find a spot for him.”

Even after a rough end to Redding’s start on Saturday night in the Mets’ 5-0 loss to the Yankees, Manuel said the right-hander still has the manager’s trust. Manuel even discussed the possibility of splitting games between the two pitchers.

“The other option is to kind of piggyback them — have one guy give me five [innings] and the other give me four,” Manuel said.

Perez has not pitched for the Mets since May 2. In five starts this season, he was 1-2 with a 9.97 ERA but he feels confident he will help the big club now that he is healthy. 

“I’m excited to go up to the Mets and do what I have to do, ” he said. “My fastball and slider were working for me and I was able to change speeds. It was a good five innings and I feel strong. I’d like to throw 100 pitches in my next start and I’ll be ready.”

A healthy Oliver Perez is at best, an erratic but talented major league pitcher who can still eat up innings for Manuel. Now, if he could only pick up a bat and replace the offensive production the Mets are missing without the injured Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado, the Mets will really have something.

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