Rumors have already swirled that Oliver Perez is out of the running for a spot in the New York Mets starting rotation, but manager Terry Collins made it clear that he is keeping his promise to the lefty, that he will have every chance to make the team.
"If I back down from that, I wouldn’t be sleeping too good. So we’re going to give him that next opportunity."
How serious is Collins about keeping his word?
He is traveling with the split-squad Mets as they take the long bus ride to Kissimmee so he can watch Perez make what will likely be his final start -- Spring Training or otherwise -- against the Houston Astros While the manager heads on the road, the rest of the coaching staff will stay in Port St. Lucie for the Mets-Nationals game.
"Credibility is at stake here," Collins said. "I don't think it's fair to him not having me there. If I was trying to make a team and make a rotation and the manager wasn't there, I would question that."
Collins will be looking for increased velocity from Perez, the source of his issues along with a lack of control. After sitting in the 80s during his first appearance, it's unlikely that the Astros gun will be favorable enough to put Perez in the 91-93 range, but the Mets manager will be there to see it either way.
For his part, Perez seems undaunted in the face of his long shot odds to made the team.
"I don't worry if people don't think I can do it. The Mets have given me a chance to start games. All I can do is pitch my best. When I'm on the mound, I don't think about it being maybe my last start or anything else."