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Ollie being Ollie: 3 runs before 1 out

Mets pitcher Oliver Perez had a typically erratic

Mets pitcher Oliver Perez had a typically erratic outing during a start against the Astros on Tuesday. (Mar. 8, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Oliver Perez is who he is, and that's not going to change, regardless of how many times the Mets choose to send him out to the mound.

Both manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson stressed the importance of seeing him in person Tuesday against the Astros, but they could have saved themselves the two-hour drive to Osceola County Stadium. Perez was every bit his erratic self during the bumpy three-inning performance, and other than a slight uptick in velocity, it was very similar to his previous two outings.

Collins reserved any final judgment on Perez until he meets with Alderson and pitching coach Dan Warthen, who stayed with the Mets' other split-squad team at Digital Domain Park. The three are scheduled to talk then about the next step for Perez, who is expected to audition for the bullpen.

"I don't know how much he's relieved, and that's an issue if you can't get warm fast," Collins said. "Obviously, we'll discus that stuff. I have no idea what we're going to do until we talk [Wednesday], but throwing strikes is something you got to do out of the bullpen. That's just part of that role."

The Astros scored three runs on three hits in the first inning Tuesday before Perez recorded an out -- forcing Collins to make a mound visit. Perez followed by retiring three straight, but he was hit hard, and he didn't seem to fool the Astros very often. Clint Barmes, Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee were a combined 3-for-4 with two doubles and two walks against Perez.

"In the first inning, I threw a lot of fastballs, and they had good at-bats," said Perez, who threw 51 pitches overall, 31 for strikes. "After the first inning, I bounced back with two good innings, and that's important for every pitcher."

Perez did show resilience, and a touch more velocity on the radar gun, ranging between 85-88 mph. He retired six of the last seven batters he faced, but needed a nice catch by Lucas Duda in leftfield to strand Pence at second base in the third inning.

Duda went up against the wall to make the extended grab, and Collins visited Perez after that to see if he wanted to continue. He got Matt Downs on a hard grounder to third to finish his day and later said he's ready for whatever the Mets have planned for him.

"I don't have any pressure," Perez said. "I know what I have to do. My velocity was way better than my last outing and that's good for me. I think I'm getting better."

Perez reiterated that he prefers to start, but it's very likely that was his last opportunity before the Mets test him as a situational lefty for the bullpen.

"We have to talk," Perez said. "That's not my decision. That's the manager's decision."

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