Even the most optimistic Mets fan had to anticipate at least some World Baseball Classic–related complications this spring, with the organization sending a league-leading sixteen players to the tournament, including virtually every significant player this side of Johan Santana. But it appeared that, save for David Wright’s broken toenail, they’d made it back to camp in one piece.
However, pitching coach Dan Warthen isn’t so sure the tournament is not having some lingering effects. After Oliver Perez was hit hard yesterday (six earned runs in three innings), Warthen suggested that Perez was out of shape — but that he wasn’t when he first arrived to Mets camp. From the Post: “He came into camp in good shape. I thought he was throwing the ball very well when he left camp. I was a little reticent when he left here [for the WBC], and my worries have come to fruition.”
Warthen said that Perez had gained weight by the time he returned to the Mets, but as much as we’d like to blame the WBC for any of our local team’s shortcomings, we’re not sure about this one. First of all, Perez wasn’t with Team Mexico for all that long; they made it to the second of three rounds. And it’s not like he didn’t have a chance to get his work in: He made two starts, but struggled through six innings. You’d also think that whether a professional athlete was in Port St. Lucie or Mexico City, he’d be able to keep an eye on his own fitness.
In fact, considering Perez threw three shutout innings in his first post-WBC outing last Friday, yesterday’s poor start would seem to indicate that Perez is already in mid-season form. After all, that’s the type of maddening inconsistency he’s made his name on.