Perez grabbing hold of relief role

Perez grabbing hold of relief role

Perez grabbing hold of relief role
SAN DIEGO -- A lot of fans, and baseball people, wrote off Oliver Perez after he was released by the Mets as a struggling starter prior to the 2011 season.

But the veteran left-hander is in the process of re-inventing himself as a reliever, and is off to a nice start since being called up by the Mariners last weekend.

Perez, 30, threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings against the D-backs earlier this week, allowing one hit, one walk and three strikeouts in his first Major League outings since the Mets released him with $12 million still left on his contract after he went 0-5 with a 6.80 ERA in 17 games in 2010.

"I worked really hard to get to this moment, and what I have to do now is keep playing the same way and just enjoy it and keep going," said Perez, who signed with Seattle on a Minor League deal this spring after a strong Winter League showing in his native Mexico.

"It was a tough three years, but when you work hard and don't give up, sometimes everything works out."

Mariners manager Eric Wedge is encouraged by what he's seen so far.

  • 142 wins
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"He's been impressive," Wedge said. "He's aggressive and pounding the zone and showing good stuff. He has good velocity. There's a lot to like there."

Perez had some leg problems that led to decreased velocity in his final two seasons with the Mets, but he's healthy now and has been throwing the ball harder the past six months. He said he was hitting 88-92 mph in Winter Ball, then was up to 90-94 mph this spring.

Now he seems to be even a tick or two faster, partly because he's healthier, and partly because he said he's able to throw 100 percent in shorter relief roles.

Perez is feeling so good, he's unleashed his trademark leap over the basepath as he comes off the field, a sure sign that he's feeling happy. He said the second chance has given him renewed baseball life.

"I feel like every time I'm on the mound, I have that energy," Perez said. "I love the game and I'm having fun. Something can happen to anybody. Somebody can get hurt, sometimes you don't play anymore. That's why I never gave up. One of those days last year I thought about just going home and that's it, but I said, 'No, this is your job and you can play more years.'

"This is a good opportunity. Right now, I'm a reliever and this can be like my second job."