By Ed Coleman
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This was the day that Oliver Perez’ tenure as a Met came to an end. Manager Terry Collins gave us a good idea of what to expect when he was asked what the next step in the “Oliver process” would be after Sunday’s loss to the Marlins in Jupiter.
Perez was awful in his last relief outing on Saturday, giving up back-to-back home runs and walking the only left-handed batter he faced on four pitches.
And it looks more and more like the Mets will be going with just one lefthander – Tim Byrdak – in the bullpen. The only other southpaw that has a chance is Mike O’Connor, and he was lit up on Sunday. O’Connor – who also has options left – only recorded one out while giving up four hits, three runs and walking one. The bullpen is shaping up to be closer Frankie Rodriguez, setup men Bobby Parnell and Jason Isringhausen, along with D.J. Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz, rule 5 draftee Pedro Beato and Byrdak.
Parnell, by the way, has to start straightening himself out. He’s been rather unimpressive to say the least. His ERA is 6.14, and he’s yielded 10 hits and 5 runs in 7 1/3 innings. Buchholz could find himself in a setup role if he maintains his solid resume. He’s yet to give up a run in 8 appearances covering 11 innings, striking out 7 while walking four.
Collins has yet to name his entire starting rotation, but he easily could after the latest stellar outings of Chris Capuano and Chris Young over the weekend. Capuano pitched 5 2/3 brilliant innings on Saturday against the Nationals, and Young followed with 6 strong shutout innings Sunday versus the Marlins. Young allowed 4 hits, did not walk a batter, struck out 3 and lowered his ERA to 1.33. Collins was duly impressed.
Young has felt his strength and command improve with each outing this spring.
Collins also feels that the combination of Young’s height (6’10”) and the fact that he hides the ball well makes it particularly difficult for opposing hitters to pick up the ball.
Carlos Beltran felt much better on Sunday as he continued limited workouts, and he and Collins both still feel that the outfielder will be good to go for Opening Night.
The Mets were blanked by the Marlins 5-0 on Sunday. Reserve outfielders Willie Harris and Scott Hairston each had a hit to continue their fine springs – Harris is batting .308 – Hairston .410. The Mets will host the Braves on Monday in Port St. Lucie – Tommy Hanson will go for Atlanta against Mike Pelfrey. Scheduled relievers are Isringhausen, Carrasco and Blaine Boyer.
And in the you-could-have-seen-this-coming department, the recently released Luis Castillo has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Phillies. Philadelphia 2B Chase Utley has suffered from knee tendinitis all spring and is currently iffy for Opening Day. Watch out for those Rollins to Castillo to Howard 6-4-3’s.
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