Perez Ready to Return

Perez is ready to return to New York

BUFFALO, NY - Mets left-hander Oliver Perez has spent the last two months getting himself ready to return to the Mets rotation. Now that date is imminent as he is due to take the ball on Wednesday for his first start since May 2. With the Mets in need of quality starting pitching, Perez is confident he can give the club just that.

After having been out of the Mets rotation since May 3rd with a right knee injury, pitcher Oliver Perez has been rehabbing with the Single A St. Lucie Mets, Brooklyn Cyclones and most recently, with Triple-A Buffalo on July 3.

It was Perez's fourth rehab start Friday night, where he threw into the sixth inning before Bisons manager Ken Oberkfell pulled the hurler from the game after exceeding his 90-pitch limit, when he topped out with 92 pitches. Against the Rochester Red Wings, Perez gave up three earned runs, five hits and four walks, while striking out four. In two starts with Buffalo, Perez went 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA with nine strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings.

"Most important, I'm feeling real good and I'm not thinking about my knee. I was feeling really strong and I think I'm ready, I was a little wild but more important, I'm feeling strong," Perez said after the game when asked about his performance.

"Today, that was the key, not thinking about the knee, just thinking about the game. I feel really good and I think I showed emotion because I don't like to lose," he continued.

Perez is scheduled to start for the Mets Wednesday, July 8, against the Los Angeles Dodgers, his first appearance for New York in over two months. When asked about how prepared he is for his first major league start since his injury, he stated, "That's not my decision. Tonight I threw almost like one hundred pitches and I'm ready to go and I don't know when they are going too decided."

"I feel like I can pitch in the big leagues, I'm feeling real strong. I threw two times, five innings and that's really key for me, being hurt and throwing back-to-back five innings and not feeling any pain. That's really very important for me," Perez explained.

With the addition of the injury to Perez, the first year of a three-year, $36 million contract that he has signed with the Mets has been undoubtedly disappointing for both parties. Of the starts that Perez made for the Mets before being placed on the 15-day DL, he has managed to rack up an inflated 9.97 ERA and a 1-2 record.

With the lack luster performances the big league club has received from the hurler, Perez seems eager to get back to New York and show why the Mets brought the 27-year-older to Queens: "You give me the ball tomorrow, I'll be ready tomorrow."

"I'm really excited and really happy everything I've been doing 'cause that's not easy being hurt and see the team have a problem. It's one of those times when you want to get there and help with anything. I don't like to lose."

During his time in the minors healing up an ailing knee, Perez has gained much needed confidence in his ability to go deep in a game and help the Mets pitching staff with quality innings, thanks to the command of a new pitch, a changeup.

"Before, maybe with a fastball and a slider I don't get out of the fifth inning, now I've got the changeup and I get through five innings easy."

The two months that Perez has been on a rehab assignment with the New York Mets minor league system, the team has struggled in the NL East, sitting in fourth place with a 39-42 record. Perez repeated confidently after his start with the Bisons that he is feeling good and ready to get back with the Mets.

"I want to keep working, keep working for the Mets and try and get in the playoffs," he closed.

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