New York Mets' overpaid lefty Oliver Perez made his long-awaited spring training debut today against the Atlanta Braves in hopes of making a dent in his chances of capturing a spot in the back end of the rotation, but instead dug himself a deeper hole.
In his two innings of work after Chris Young started and threw two hitless, two-strikeout innings himself, Perez gave up four earned runs, four hits and three walks while striking out three. Of his 45 pitches, just 19 were in the strikezone, according to our friends at Amazin' Avenue. He walked three straight with two out in the second inning to force in a run. Even his velocity was far from average, as various reports indicate that he was only hitting the mid-80s with his fastball, though he was clocked at 88 to 92 miles per hour in the Mexican League this summer. The Mets ended up winning the game, 5-4, but a soft-tosser who walks the field -- and hasn't shown an ability to get hitters out in years -- just isn't going to get the job done.
In yesterday's first spring training game, Sandy Alderson spoke of how he was a "results guy" and that while someone may look good in drills, or throwing/hitting in batting practice, he and his coaching staff want to see the players get it done on the field. Perez' debut after throwing just 46.1 innings last season, as well as back-to-back 6.80 ERA years, will certainly not help his cause this spring. Even though he retired the two lefties he faced, Freddie Freeman and Jordan Schafer, you're not going to be earning a bullpen spot if you can't find the strikezone. Thus far, Terry Collins also seems like a coach who wants to see the fundamentals of the game executed -- not throwing strikes is definitely a way to get in the new coach's doghouse.
Earlier in the day, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News said that pitching coach Dan Warthen wanted to give Perez to March 10 "to prove case as starter." That leaves the lefty with one more start this spring -- and he's already behind the eight ball.
Against the University of Michigan, a 7-1 Mets victory, Chris Capuano threw three innings and gave up one run on three hits with four strikeouts. Dillon Gee tossed 2.1 scoreless/hitless innings while striking out four and walking one. Even though Capuano and Gee threw against a collegiate squad, they're certainly above Perez in the pecking order for the rotation spot.