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Next stop for Oliver Perez, the Twilight Zone

How appropriate that the Champion Stadium loudspeakers blared the theme from the "The Twilight Zone" when Oliver Perez was in the final moments of his fourth-inning meltdown yesterday against the Braves. Even for Perez, this was a disturbing reversal.

Perez threw strikes in the third inning, nine of 12 pitches, and then couldn't find the plate in the fourth when he walked three straight Braves. Mercifully, the inning ended with a rundown after Shawn Bowman's bases-loaded single. Otherwise, manager Terry Collins may have to retrieve Perez from the mound.

What's next for Perez? Collins says now that he'll get a chance to start one of the March 8 split-squad games, but that's a long ways off. I think it's safe to scratch Perez off the list of potential starters, unless he'd be willing to accept a demotion to Triple-A Buffalo this season - something he refused to do last year.

For those eager to put the Perez fiasco behind them, the Mets' de facto ace, Mike Pelfrey, starts today against the Nationals, who will bring top prospect Bryce Harper to Digital Domain Park. You'll get to see it all on SNY at 1:10 p.m.

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