The Mets' doors open again today in advance of tomorrow's reporting date for pitchers and catchers -- much to the relief of Oliver Perez, who showed up Sunday to get an early jump and found the minor-league complex locked tight.
Upon his arrival, and brief stay at Digital Domain Park, Perez said that he's "here to be a starting pitcher" and is hoping to win a rotation job. Still, it's not like he can afford to be picky. GM Sandy Alderson already has put Perez on notice, saying he needs to earn a job this spring -- and that his $12-million salary will not be a deterrent to releasing him if necessary.
Perez's numbers in Mexico were underwhelming this winter, but he blamed them in part on barely pitching during the final three months of last season. He claims to be healthy now, and in shape, so he'll have the opportunity to prove himself over the next six weeks.
It's not like the Mets have a surplus of Cy Young winners here in camp, so they can't afford to just cut Perez loose on principle. They'll need to determine if he has anything left, but it wasn't a good sign that neither Alderson, manager Terry Collins or pitching coach Dan Warthen went to Mexico to see Perez pitch this winter. For a pitcher that has trouble finding the plate, Perez already has one strike against him.