Ollie to pen competition official

March, 9, 2011
Terry Collins officially ended Oliver Perez's ambition to be a Mets starter, informing the southpaw Wednesday he would now move into a competition for the lefty specialist role. That's widely expected to be an intermediate step, with Perez ultimately slated to be released.

"I told him that we have decided that we think the place where he would probably help us the most is being a situational lefty," Collins said. "He said he understood and would do the best he could to help us out of the bullpen. ... I just said it's reached a time in the camp where there are some other guys ahead of him and that we've got to make sure they get themselves stretched out."

Collins officially named the left-handed specialist combatants as Tim Byrdak, Taylor Tankersley, Mike O'Connor, Pat Misch and Perez, but the manager previously has proclaimed the ex-Astro Byrdak on firm footing. Misch's likely role, assuming he breaks camp with the team, is as long man/spot starter.

"Tim Byrdak, he's done it," Collins said. "Actually, Taylor Tankersley has done a good job against lefties. He hung a couple of balls to some right-handed hitters, but he's gotten left-handed hitters out. Mike O'Connor yesterday they told me was very, very good here. So each of the guys has done what you've expected -- and that's get left-handed hitters out. Now, starting in the next two weeks, the competition is going to get a little better. The players are getting in better shape. The game is going to speed up a little bit. And so we'll get a lot better read."

Collins said Perez will pitch Saturday at ESPN Wide World of Sports against the Braves. The manager will try to line up Perez to face left-handed batters.

"He's in a completely new role," Collins said. "I told him I think it's a great, fresh start for him. So we'll see what comes out of it. I think left-handed hitters in his whole career have hit .214 or .210 against him [actually, .226]. We'll see how that works out."

Adam Rubin

ESPN Staff Writer
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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