Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Will the real Oliver Perez please stand up?

The first thing that I've noticed since my return is Jim Tracy's failure to name Oliver Perez as one of his "strikeout pitchers." as both Rowdy and Charlie have posts up on it right now. The first thing I honestly thought of when I saw that is that it must be Tracy's way of motivating Ollie. There's no way any self-respecting manager can actually be characterizing Oliver Perez as a soft-tossing lefty. It was only two years ago the guy lead the league in K/9 and even Tracy made some comments a while back to a similar tune. Knowing the massively competitive player that Perez is, I assumed that Tracy must have been trying to motivate Perez. I think it worked. I saw the early part of Bucs/Red Sox game on ESPN today, and thought Ollie's velocity looked markedly increased, though there was no gun and the naked eye isn't the best way to judge these things. I had to run around campus to do some catching up from the time I missed while out of town, but came back to see Perez whiff David Ortiz on a vintage Ollie slider. I then heard the annoucers declare that his fastball was really zipping today, and Ortiz was in fact the 14th batter in a row that Ollie had put down. Tracy yanked him after that AB (with Ramirez in the on-deck circle and Perez's pitch count creeping up given the amount of work he's done this spring, plus he's got a big start to make on Monday), but his final line was 5 and 2/3, 7 Ks, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, against most of the Red Sox regulars. It's only one start, but that line is tantilizingly familar and encouraging.