Oliver Perez is back in the blue and orange.
Well, sort of.
Ollie was donning the blue and orange of the Buffalo Bisons Tuesday night at Coca-Cola Field for his first major league rehab start against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs since going on the disabled list on May 6.
Ollie shook off some early rust but settled down nicely in the middle of the second inning.
Perez walked four of the first 10 batters he faced, including a bases-loaded walk to Jason Ellson with one-out in the second, but bore down to strike out the next two hitters swinging to escape further damage.
After giving up a leadoff double in the third, Ollie retired the next seven batters in a row.
Perez threw 88 pitches in 4.1 innings, allowing one run on three hits, while striking out five.
Oliver's fastball was a consistent 90-92 mph and he mixed in his slider nicely keeping the Pigs' hitters off-balance.
"Most importantly my knee feels stronger. It's still a little sore, but I feel happy about the outing," said Perez.
Perez had made two previous extended spring training starts in Port St. Lucie, FL before joining the Herd but this start, a real game, was different.
"There's a lot more emotion, the game is more important being only one step away from the big leagues and I'm happy to be here and get work in to get back to the big league team," said Ollie.
Perez, who started the final opening day and final regular season game at Shea Stadium last year, entered this year as the Mets number three starter with a brand new three-year, $36 million dollar contract.
But it's been a rough go of it thus far in 2009 for the Mets lefty. Perez has struggled to a 9.97 ERA in five starts this season.
One of the main reasons for the slow start has been the bad wheel. Perez said his right knee has been bothering him since spring training.
Ollie admitted the knee was effecting is pitching, "I was trying different mechanics so I did not put too much stress on that knee."
Ollie was shutdown and put on the 15-day DL on May 6, retroactive to May 3, diagnosed with tendonitis in his right knee.
"I've been working on my mechanics; and with some pitches I needed to get a better understanding of what I was doing wrong to get back in the game," said Perez of his time spent in Florida on the DL.
This is Ollie's third trip to the disabled list in his seven-year big league career. His last stint on the DL was back in June 2007 with stiffness in his lower back. He rebounded nicely from that trip, averaging six and a third innings pitched, a 2.49 ERA, and 34 strikeouts over his first four starts back with the Mets.
The Mets are hoping for that same kind of bounce back in '09 because when Ollie's feeling good and his mechanics are in order he can be one of the most dominating lefties in the game.
And it hasn't been long since he's been on.
Over the last two years, Perez ranks third in opponents' batting average against at .231 behind only Jake Peavy and the reigning Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.
He also ranks seventh in strikeouts over that span with 354 punch outs. For his career Ollie has averaged more than a strikeout per inning (1,047 K's in 1,021 IP).
In particular, Ollie has been overpowering against lefties. Last year he led the National League and was second in the majors with .158 opponents' batting average against left-handed hitters.
As for what's next for Ollie now, we'll have to wait and see.
"Tomorrow I need to get some rest and see what happens. I need to continue to work hard, and I want to get better and so I can contribute (with the Mets)," said Perez.-the herd-