The Nationals' little experiment with Oliver Perez, the former Mets left-hander who was released this spring after his velocity dipped into the low 80s, takes its next step tonight. Perez will start for Double-A Harrisburg in his first minor league game for the team after being transferred from the Nationals' extended spring training in Viera, Fla.
Perez, whom the Mets are paying $12 million this season, has been working with minor league pitching coordinator Spin Williams, and while his velocity is believed to be up, there's no telling what the Nationals will get out of him. The move is at no risk to them, since they're only paying Perez a minor league salary, but if they can somehow get him near his old form, they could have a serviceable starter.
The 29-year-old left-hander has almost always struggled with walking batters, but he had his best control in Pittsburgh when he was working with Williams. But he led the NL in walks in 2008 and had a combined 6.81 ERA the last two seasons, so the Nationals have several years' worth of bad performances to flush out of the way to get Perez back to a point where he could possibly help them.
We'll see what happens starting tonight at 7:00, when he faces the New Britain Rock Cats.