The trip back to the big leagues for Oliver Perez was much farther than the distance between Tacoma and Seattle, although that was the final leg of his journey Saturday.
The Seattle Mariners brought Perez up because the left-hander is a strikeout specialist capable of going an inning or more out of the bullpen.
In 22 appearances for Tacoma, he worked 31 innings – and struck out 42 batters. He was 2-2 with a save and a 4.65 earned run average with the Rainiers.
“Perez was throwing well and has a lot of big-league experience,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We wanted to take a look at him.”
While Perez was promoted to Seattle, right-handed reliever Steve Delabar returned to Tacoma and outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
Now 30, Perez spent eight-plus seasons in the majors, most of them as a National League starting pitcher, appearing in 206 games and gong 58-69 with a 4.63 ERA in 1,1112/3 innings.
Knee surgery in 2009 cost him most of that season, and in 17 appearances with the New York Mets a year later, he was 0-5 with a 6.80 ERA.
“I thought about retirement,” Perez said Saturday. “At the end of last year, my Double-A coaches told me they thought I could be a left-handed specialist if I kept working.
“I went to winter ball, then signed here.”
In winter ball, Perez went 0-2 in 14 innings, but his ERA was 0.63 and he struck out 19 batters. That got Seattle’s attention.
“He’s thrown consistently 94-95 mph and gotten his game back together,” pitching coach Carl Willis said. “We wanted Delabar to get more work on finishing off his slider, and Perez was throwing so well we wanted to see him up here.”
Today being Father’s Day, Perez said, will make his return all the sweeter. Why?
“I have an 8-month-old daughter, Olianna, and this will be her first Father’s Day, and I’m back in the big leagues,” Oliver said.
VOICE FROM PAST
Harold Reynolds, a Corvallis, Ore., kid who was on a young Mainers team with players such as Alvin Davis, Jim Presley and Mark Langston, was at Safeco Field to throw out the first pitch Saturday night.
“This is another group of young players – Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero – that you’re going to see play here for 10 years,” Reynolds said. “I know it can be frustrating because you want a win every night, but these kids are the foundation the team is building on.
“I was a Giants fan growing up because there wasn’t a big-league team in Seattle. The closest professional team was the Portland Beavers. I came up to the Kingdome in 1979 to see the All-Star Game – I was 17 or 18 years old – and wound up being a Mariner.”
Franklin Gutierrez didn’t start after playing two games, mainly because Wedge wants to ease Gutierrez back into regular play. He pinch hit for designated hitter John Jaso in the sixth inning. … Go figure: Michael Saunders is batting .313 with six home runs and 16 RBI in night games – but .183 with one home run and six RBI in 71 at-bats during day games.
Seattle plays host to San Francisco in a 1:10 p.m. game today that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers are the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner (8-4, 3.08 ERA) vs. Felix Hernandez (4-5, 3.70).firstname.lastname@example.org @LarryLaRue