Then he hit .224/.291/.352 in a season that should be written off as a learning experience.
“I just found myself trying to do too much and put the team on my shoulders, which is not the best approach to have,” said Perez last year to MadFriars.
With a bad season behind him Perez has returned to camp this year, and yes, it’s a cliche, in the best shape of his life and more importantly his confidence has returned with the smooth line drive stroke that has always impressed everyone.
We caught up with Fernando after their exhibition game with the Tijuana Toros to discus the changes that he plans to carry over in this year.
You look so much more comfortable at the plate than you did at the end of last year in Lake Elsinore. What have you been working on?
Fernando Perez: In the off-season I was working on a lot of things, but right now I’m just trying to feel comfortable with my rhythm and timing and react to anything. The big thing is you want your head to be clear in the batter’s box so you can react to anything.
I do look for certain pitches, but mainly I think I am reacting better to the ball and don’t feel out of sync.
When I spoke to you last year you seemed that you were tying yourself up in knots mentally with trying to figure out what adjustments to make.
I know that is part of the learning process but what will happen when you struggle this year. How do you know what adjustments to make, and what ones not to make?
Fernando Perez: That is one of the things that can get to me. Sometimes I try to make too many adjustments and it can come back to get me. I want to be perfect and that is impossible.
One of the things that hurt me last year was that was that I was trying to change everything, instead of just one thing. During the season you need to make just small adjustments, instead of major ones.
Also, I think many of the changes I needed to make were more mental than mechanical. If I didn’t get a hit, I was changing my stance, swing and everything. This year I’m better prepared for the long season and am going to try to stick with one approach.
Last year we talked about your leg kick, which seemed to be the focal point of all the discussions. When it’s working you generate so much power in your swing and when you don’t use it it seems kind of flat.
Today you have a more moderate kick and it really seemed to be working today.
Fernando Perez: Before I was worried to much about the leg kick and now its much more natural. The big breakthrough for me was trying to be on time. If I’m thinking about being on time, then my foot is down and I’m not worried about it.
The key is getting my foot down which allows my hands to work.
Where have you been playing on defense?
Fernando Perez: Mainly second base, but I have also been playing a little bit at third base. I feel comfortable at both positions and am just trying to get better everyday.