Sunday, April 11, 2010

It was Perry's first save, but it won't be his last

He is currently the set-up man in the Tigers' bullpen. One of them anyway. He will probably be their closer in the not-too-distant future. And Ryan Perry is only 23 years old, with just one year in the big leagues and less than two in professional baseball under his belt.

Keep an eye on this kid. He's a keeper.

While the media and his teammates and manager rave about the poise and maturity of starter Rick Porcello -- and rightfully so -- Perry, with a similarly unflappable demeanor and without a great deal of fanfare, is quietly going about the business of becoming one of the Tigers' most dependable relief pitchers.

"He is a good-looking young pitcher," Jim Leyland cautioned. "But that's what he is: young."

It is important we don't lose sight of that fact and expect too much, too soon.

Give the kid time. Let him grow. It'll come.

"He's the perfect example of a guy learning to get acclimated to the long haul of the major league season," Leyland continued.

"He's a little more aware of what it takes to be successful up here, where you're expected to pitch two days in a row. In college he knew he was probably only going to pitch once a weekend."

Big and strong at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Perry, who was the Tigers' first round draft pick out of the University of Arizona in 2008, is throwing his fastball with more velocity this year and his improved his slider, a key ingredient for his continued success. "He's not home free with it yet," Leyland said. "But it's better."

On Saturday,  Perry picked up his first big league save. It was a role he relishes inheriting someday -- and an experience he won't soon forget.

"There's an adrenaline surge you get in that last inning, especially when you see those fans standing, cheering for the game to end," he said. 

Saturday's game ended when Cleveland's Luis Valbuena popped out to Brandon Inge in foul territory near the Tigers' dugout. Inge started to flip the ball to a kid in the stands. "No, no, I already got one," the kid protested. Inge was shocked. "That was the most honest kid I've ever seen in my life," Inge later said. "That's an honest kid right there."

So Inge handed the ball to a young girl standing nearby and ran back on the the field to join his teammates, including Perry, in their victory celebration.

"As I high-fived him, he said, 'Hey, got that ball?' " Inge said.

It had never occurred to Inge that it was Perry's first save.

Inge raced back to the edge of the field, found the girl, and traded her one his bats, which he autographed, for the baseball.

For Perry, no doubt, it was but the first of many.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home