Starting ... relieving, it doesn't seem to matter what the role is to Luis Perez of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
The 25-year-old left-hander was used for three hitless innings of relief on Opening Day, and he made his first start of the season Tuesday against the host Reading Phillies. The results were the same -- Perez was unhittable both times.
Well, nearly unhittable. He allowed a single to Domonic Brown in the seventh inning Tuesday, but that's been it. Perez ended up with a one-hit shutout with two walks and three strikeouts over seven innings, picking up the win in the Fisher Cats' 5-2 victory.
Perez admitted he was a little disappointed when he lost his no-hit bid, but hasn't been disappointed by his start to the new season.
"I liked my stuff [Tuesday]," Perez said. "My changeup and slider. My pitching coach told me to get a lot of movement to get a lot of ground balls. My changeup felt good."
Perez recorded 11 outs on ground balls, which isn't surprising. He throws an assortment of breaking pitches -- slider, sinker, changeup -- which induces grounders. Even the hit he allowed was a ground ball. For every out Perez recorded through the air in 2009, he recorded 2.15 outs on the ground.
"I want to throw strikes," Perez said. "I'm working on my changeup and my slider here."
Perez pitched for the World team in the Futures Game last year and went 9-11 with a 3.55 ERA for New Hampshire. He made 28 appearances, including 27 starts, and threw two complete games. He's a workhorse and described the 93 pitches he threw Tuesday as "not too many pitches."
Perez, who is on the Blue Jays' 40-man roster, is in his sixth season of pro ball. He's been traveling a path similar to many other Dominican players since signing with the Blue Jays as a non-drafted free agent in 2003.
He spent a couple years pitching in the Dominican Summer League before moving up to the Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League in 2007, when he struck out 71 in 75 1/3 innings for the Auburn Doubledays.
Perez spent 2008 with the Class A Lansing Lugnuts and led the staff with 137 1/3 innings and 137 strikeouts. He tossed 162 1/3 innings for New Hampshire and topped the team in wins last year.