One thing Perez wanted to do this offseason was add what he called another “power pitch” to his resume. So he worked on a cutter.
“Everybody knows I have a good changeup, but I wanted something with speed,” Perez said. “This year, my curve is better and I wanted to try the cutter. In the past, I tried it and if it wasn’t good, I’d throw it out. But now I’ve got more confidence. I can throw it and I feel great.”
Perez said he threw the cutter twice last year, both in a September start in Oakland. He wasn’t pleased with it, despite getting a swing-and-miss and an out on a long fly ball. But he’s going to try it again.
Perez said he felt some tightness in his back earlier in the offseason and took it as a sign that he needed to do more work on his core.
“I feel strong and have had no problems now,” Perez said. “It’s something I’ll keep doing.”
Perez said he feels like he made big strides last year – a 10-6 mark with a 3.62 ERA in 20 starts with 84 strikeouts and 37 walks that earned him a contract extension -- because his mental approach improved.
“I understand the process now,” Perez said. “If I look behind a few years ago, I was just trying to throw hard. Now, it’s not how hard you throw, but where you throw the ball and how you pitch. That’s the difference four years ago and now. I’m learning how I need to pitch and where to throw the ball."
Perez added he wants to attack the zone even more, especially early in the count.
“Don’t give too much credit to the hitters,” Perez said. “That happened to me a couple of times last year. That’s what they want -- attack early and make quick outs. If I can make a quick out, I can go longer in the game.”