By Ed Coleman
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It’s another big day for Ollie. Oliver Perez, the velocity and control challenged lefthander, makes what will most likely be his last start of the spring on Tuesday in Kissimmee against the Astros. Manager Terry Collins and G.M. Sandy Alderson will both make the trip two hours north on a split-squad day to see if there’s any improvement in Perez. Collins certainly hopes to see something different from what he’s watched thus far.
For Met fans who want to kiss the enigmatic Ollie goodbye after this start, don’t pucker up just yet. Perez was promised starts this spring, and if cracking the rotation didn’t work out, he was told he would be considered for the bullpen – and Collins is a man of his word.
It’s hard to see Perez in that role, given his propensity for wildness and lack of experience doing it, but it apparently gives him another life. For now.
Perez will be opposed by old friend Nelson Figueroa, now a fixture in the Houston rotation. The other game for the Mets on Tuesday is back in Port St. Lucie where they’ll host the Nationals – lefty Chris Capuano will face Washington’s young righthander Jordan Zimmerman.
On Monday, the Tigers edged the Mets 2-1, both runs coming off starter R.A. Dickey who went 4 innings. Dickey says he’s exactly where he wants to be at this stage of the spring.
The Met offense has been stagnant at times and it was again Monday, collecting just 5 hits and going 0-6 with RISP. Jason Bay – who looks revitalized – doubled and is now batting .467. Nick Evans – desperately trying to fit somewhere – singled and is at .364. Luis Castillo went 0-3 and fell to .154 (2-13) on the spring. Of course the other three second base candidates – Daniel Murphy (.250), Brad Emaus (.125) and Justin Turner (.200) – are struggling as well.
Five relievers followed Dickey – all looked good and all will throw again on Tuesday to go back-to-back. Jason Isringhausen and lefties Tim Byrdak and Mike O’Connor will pitch in P.S.L. – Bobby Parnell and Ryota Igarashi will travel to Kissimmee. Izzy broke out his trademark curve for the first time and mixed in a few changeups.
Parnell unleashed some nasty sliders, a pitch he really needs to keep hitters off his blazing fastball.
Byrdak has looked sharp and will likely make the pen, O’Connor is a strike-throwing machine but has options left, and Igarashi struck out the side Monday and has 7 strikeouts in 3 innings of work.
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