Perry settles into versatile role
Right-handed reliever ready for duty when called
DETROIT -- Ryan Perry doesn't know exactly what his role will be out of the Detroit bullpen on a nightly basis.
After all, it doesn't really matter.
Perry has had both ups and downs during his rookie season with the Tigers, but the highs appear to be outweighing the lows. Entering Tuesday night's game against Baltimore, Perry has a 3.63 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings in the Majors. He has pitched a significant amount of time in both Detroit and Triple-A Toledo.
And if there is one area where Perry is confident he has improved, it is with his control. If that continues, Perry's improvement could be a huge lift to the Tigers bullpen, given that he has issued 22 walks on the year. It was the main thing he had worked on for several weeks at Toledo before being recalled to Detroit in late July. While in Toledo, Perry compiled three saves with 13 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings and a 2.63 ERA.
"When I was down in Toledo, I really just tried to throw strikes," Perry said. "I didn't try to overpower everyone. I had my times [when he tried to record strikeouts] but when I needed to I tried to ease back a little."
Throwing fastballs for strikes is particularly important, Perry indicated. That allows him to set up his slider and put himself in a position to keep runners off base with a fastball that regularly reaches the high-90s. It doesn't matter if he is facing a lineup full of aggressive hitting rookies or patient veterans -- that game plan usually works for him.
"I want to come at hitters with both my fastball and slider and be able to locate it where I want," Perry said. "That's nothing different than what I have been doing throughout this year."
For now, Perry isn't concerned with the possibility of shuttling back and forth between Detroit and Toledo. Manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday that the Tigers plan to maintain flexibility with their roster moves for the remainder of this season, so there may be more than a few players who take that trek up and down I-75 until the Minor League season ends in September. Regardless, the fire-balling righty knows he has to perform on the field and worry about tomorrow when that day arrives.
With the July 31 Trade Deadline in the past, Perry at least knows which organization he will be with the last two months of the season.
"I don't let that bother me at all," Perry said of the possibility he could be back in Toledo at some point in August. "It happens a lot to younger players and it's been happening the whole year with me. You can't let [that possibility] get in your head and affect how you perform. If that happens there is a better chance you may get sent down because your performances haven't been good."
There is the chance that Perry's performances could come in more critical roles as the season winds down, especially with the loss of flame-throwing reliever Joel Zumaya. His power arm is a highly valued commodity in any bullpen.
"I don't know what my role will be frankly from game to game. It's up in the air. I'm just going to go out and do my job."
Mike Scott is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.