Chris Perez: I have physically matured as a player. I have lost the weight I needed to lose, which helped me in my mechanics. I was able to understand my body and where things were dropping and when I had flawed mechanics.
In extended spring training I spent a lot of time with Razor who is absolutely phenomenal. From head to toe he told me where I needed to be with my body. We made a few adjustments.
I pitched well enough in extended to come (to Eugene). At times as a relief pitcher in extended – we were waiting to hear what Razor said and would make the adjustment from what he said and I tried to avoid him as much as possible when I found out where I needed to be. When I did need something or forgot where I needed to be I talked to him – a little side work and we are back at it again.
I have been in a starting role so I have to be more consistent. I don't have one inning to work with. I can find where I need to make the adjustments.
Overall, it has been a big step.
When we first spoke it became apparent that you are an emotional guy. How does that affect you on the mound and have you had to temper it a little bit?
Chris Perez: Back to my college days, I was told by many that the reason I did not get drafted was because of my temper on the mound and I showed my emotions. I feel now I have grown up tremendously. This is a job.
When I see that in others I will go up to them and explain, ‘This was me. I may not look the same anymore but I was you – exactly what you are doing.' The younger kids I try to influence and tell them I was there once. You are going to change and figure out where you need to be.
Riddoch is the best manager you can have. All we talk about is my mound presence and how I look. He says I have improved – maybe one or two pitches he can see it on my face but I am not going nuts. I am telling myself to stay back, go back to mechanics and throw the next pitch where it needs to be. Riddoch is an outstanding manager. He is the best thing I can possibly have after being in Independent ball with a manager who was all about performance and did not care about mechanics. That weighed me down.
Is there a specific pitch you have seen take off since you have aligned your mechanics properly?
Chris Perez: I have always had the curveball – a slurve. They didn't like it in spring because my mechanics were off and my elbow would drop – it looked like it was a little painful. With more repetition my curveball seems to have more break to it. It is more consistent now. I can throw it for a strike.
My fastball has more life and acts like a two-seamer although it is a four-seamer. I don't know how it does it.
They took the curveball away from me for about two and a half months but before I came to Eugene I gave up a homer and couldn't find that slider – a hard cutter they wanted. I would have it one day and the next day I would not. It was a feel pitch and I didn't have it. I went back to the curveball and all of a sudden it came back and they asked, ‘where did that pitch come from?'
‘I had it the whole time but have not been throwing it.'
They got rid of the slider and back to the curveball. They told me to get rid of the slider/cutter but I personally still like it to throw against lefties and get it on them and break a bat or two.
It is still a learning process. I am older but still young at heart.
You say you are older and obviously come from independent ball. Do you view that as having your chances limited?
Chris Perez: I went through a long career at college where I was told as a freshman that I could really make it – I just need to get my mind into it. Maturity wasn't there for a long time. I see my mistakes and don't want to go down the same path.
I say I am old but I have a fresh arm and haven't really been pitching for that many years. Mechanically – this is the first time I have been shown mechanics and I am catching on pretty fast. I know they see me being older but as long as I am fresh and healthy I can be around for a long time.
What are the expectations for the rest of the year?
Chris Perez: I have been a strikeout pitcher in the past but would rather pitch to contact and save the bullets in my arm. Three or less to each batter. I know I can do it but have to spot up a little better. That is just learning. For the most part, keep the ball down and ground balls all day.
Talk about Chris Perez on our subscriber-only message boards, the only place to find up to the minute roster moves on the entire minor leagues as they happen.