Perez has eyes set on MLB managerial job

Former catcher managed in Venezuela this past winter

Perez has eyes set on MLB managerial job

ATLANTA -- After spending the past few months managing Las Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League, Braves bullpen coach Eddie Perez has returned to the United States confident that he is prepared for the potential opportunity to become a Major League manager.

But because of the strong bond he has formed with Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, Perez would rather the opportunity come outside of Atlanta.

"I hope [the managerial opportunity] is not here," Perez said after a Tuesday morning workout at Turner Field. "This is my hometown and I'd love to be here, but I hope the opportunity comes somewhere else, because I don't want Fredi to go anywhere."

As longtime Braves coach Bobby Dews was nearing the end of a career that fell short of his hope to one day become a Major League manager, he instructed Perez that he should reveal his willingness to manage once he was confident he was ready for the challenge at the big league level.

When there was some discussion about him potentially filling Cleveland's managerial vacancy after the 2009 season, Perez thought he was ready to step into this lofty role. But by the time he concluded a previous two-season stint (2008-09 and 2009-10) as Zulia's manager, he realized he had more to learn.

Perez's most recent experience with Zulia proved to be much different, as he guided the club to a 35-28 record. As the season progressed, he found himself much more confident in his authoritative role.

"The difference was I wasn't afraid to make decisions by myself," Perez said. "It was a big test for me going out there and seeing what I can do. But it went pretty well. It was a good situation and I went through some bad times, too. So I feel like I know how to handle those different situations."

During his 11-season Major League career as a backup catcher, Perez had the privilege to serve as Greg Maddux's primary catcher. At the same time, he spent nine of those seasons playing under the direction of Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox.

Perez was also fortunate to have spent four seasons in his current role as a member of Cox's coaching staff in Atlanta. But he feels that he has continued to gain a better understanding for the managerial role while spending each of the past four seasons working alongside Gonzalez.

"I'm ready to manage now," Perez said. "I'm saying that just in case an opportunity arises. But I wish I could be here 10 more years with Fredi as the manager, because I like what I'm doing now."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.