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Clock is ticking for Perez's fastball

Manager Terry Collins will make the long trip

Manager Terry Collins will make the long trip to watch what will likely be Oliver Perez's last start of the spring. (Mar. 3, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson will make the two-hour trip to Kissimmee Tuesday to observe Oliver Perez, who is to start against the Astros. It is unusual for both to travel so far, especially with another split-squad game at home. But Perez is in the final stages of the evaluation process.

In all likelihood, this will be Perez's last start - and barring a handful of injuries, he remains an extreme long shot for the rotation. As far as the bullpen, Collins insists Perez will be given a chance as a lefthanded specialist, if only because the manager told Perez so.

"[My] credibility is at stake," Collins said. "We told Ollie if we felt that the rotation is not part of it, we'll take a look at a situational lefty and give him the opportunity to be that guy. If I back down from that, I wouldn't be sleeping too good."

Perez needs to show a serious uptick in velocity, which hovered in the mid-80s in his first two starts.

Beltran sits

Carlos Beltran said Monday morning that he was "sore in a good way" after his Grapefruit League debut Sunday but still decided to skip Monday afternoon's game against the Tigers. Beltran does plan to DH Tuesday at home in a split-squad game against the Nationals.

There was some discrepancy in the relaying of the conversation, with Beltran saying it was the manager's idea to sit him and vice versa. But it won't be an issue unless he is forced to rest for a second straight day.

Jason Isringhausen broke out his curveball, and his fastball was in the range of 89 to 90 mph, but his biggest challenge will come Tuesday in his first back-to-back outings. "I might as well get it over with," he said. "I always felt that if I was healthy, I can get people out. If I don't make this team, it will be because I'm not healthy."

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