Perez to return to Mets on Wednesday

Perez to return to Mets vs. Dodgers

PHILADELPHIA -- The 2009 season for Oliver Perez, scarred as it always was, skipped a beat -- or 10 -- the last time the Mets played a series here. On May 3, one day after he had been battered by the Phillies in his fifth start, Perez was assigned to the disabled list because of a case of tendinitis in his right knee that seemed to develop overnight, and what was supposed to be a relatively brief assignment has lasted slightly more than two months.

And now it's about to end. Perez is scheduled to return to the rotation Wednesday, when the Mets play the Dodgers at Citi Field. Manager Jerry Manuel said as much Saturday, hours after Perez had made his second rehab start against Triple-A competition and ... well, survived.

The Mets, with scouts at the game in Buffalo to assess Perez's readiness for big league duty, determined the 27-year-old left-handed starter, had regained sufficient arm strength and control to resume his season as a member of a rotation that has performed poorly for more than a month. Perez is to replace Tim Redding in the rotation Wednesday, Manuel said. Redding was part of the rotation's problem. Now Perez, an enigma through most of his career, is seen as part of the solution.

The Mets' rotation had produced a 5.34 ERA, the highest in the National League, between May 31 and the team's game against the Philliies on Saturday afternoon. Redding's ERA, 6.99 through nine starts and 47 2/3 innings, is to be replaced by the 9.97 Perez produced in 21 2/3 innings before his DL assignment.

Redding will be used in relief now. Indeed, he was available to relieve Saturday because he had pitched merely 2 2/3 innings Thursday against the Pirates in what may stand as his final start. When Perez is activated Wednesday, the Mets probably will designate Elmer Dessens for assignment.

"It was going to be one or the other [Redding or Fernando Nieve, the starter Saturday]," pitching coach Dan Warthen said Saturday. "We put Oliie where he fit best. Timmy had too many big innings. He'd give us three, four or five good innings, but we weren't getting six or seven. This way, maybe we get two or three of those good innings every week. The staff might be better off that way."

Perez, who rejoined the team Saturday, said he was delighted to be back.

"Now I'm excited to be ready to pitch again," Perez said.

Perez said he feels strong and that his knee is not an issue. Then again, when he was with the team in New York last week, he told people the knee never was an issue. There had been no word of tendinitis or pain through his start against the Phillies. But the following day, Perez limped conspicuously around the clubhouse with an ice pack on the right knee. Later, when he was dressed, he was asked which knee had bothered him, he paused, looked down and said "right."

But the club did say that part of his rehabilitation had been slowed by knee pain.

Perez noted he has polished the changeup that he had begin to throw in Spring Training before abandoning it. He worked with Guy Conti, the Mets' bullpen coach in recent seasons, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He also explained that his control was better when he pitched for Buffalo on Friday than two numbers indicate; he threw 92 pitches, 46 -- or half -- for strikes.

After hearing the scouting report, Warthen said Perez hadn't missed by much on his pitches. Warthen also said Perez had been "squeezed" by the plate umpire.

Redding accepted his reassignment without rancor. He had expected it.

"I'm not stupid," Redding said. "A decision had to be made sooner or later. I wasn't aware that Ollie pitched [Friday], but I figured when he was ready, he'd be back in the rotation.

"I didn't do my job as a starter. I didn't do a good job. I had nine starts, two really bad, two pretty good. And the others were OK. As good as I feel, I'm disappointed I didn't put up results. Now I just hope to have a good second half and help this team win in a different capacity."

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.