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Ollie as a starter? Yup, still possible

Mets pitcher Oliver Perez reacts while pitching in

Mets pitcher Oliver Perez reacts while pitching in relief against Arizona at Citi Field. (Aug. 1, 2011) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

You read that right, folks.

Days after GM Sandy Alderson said neither Oliver Perez or Luis Castillo would be cut before spring training, manager Terry Collins said that Perez would be coming to camp early after playing winter ball and would be in the mix to compete for a starting role.

"He'll probably come in as a starter because that's what he's always been," Collins said this evening at the Police Athletic League's 18th annual Sportsnite event at Cipriani banquet hall in Manhattan. "There's competition for the starting job."

Collins added that he was impressed with Perez's work ethic during his rehab assignment last season and that, "I think he did as good as he could." He went on to say that no final decision has been made. "Is there a possibility that we'll make a move and make him a situational guy? That's there," he said. "We've gotta rebuild that confidence."

Indeed, Collins said that confidence is a team-wide concern. "[Perez] isn't the only guy on this team" suffering from lack of confidence, he said. "We gotta convince these guys that they're good enough and that their stuff is good enough...not just Ollie, a lot of guys."

Perez went 0-3 before losing his starting role after going down with an injury in June and finished with an 0-5 record and a 6.80 ERA, making only six appearances in the final four months of the season. He allowed 42 walks in 46.1 innings. He's owed $12 million in the final year of his three-year contract.

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