Martin Perez will start on the mound for the host Texas Rangers on Sunday afternoon in the finale of a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels in Arlington, Texas.
It’s a situation Perez (0-1, 6.75 ERA) is quite familiar with, no matter whose uniform he’s wearing.
Perez will be making his 21st career appearance (17th start) against the Angels, most against any club except the Seattle Mariners (25). Most of those starts came as a member of the Rangers before he spent the past three seasons playing for the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox.
Although Perez is back where he began his major league career at age 21 in 2012, the current version is different. Gone are the days when he relied on a fastball that often was tough for him to command. Now, mixing in his changeup and slider provides a balance that had been lacking.
“I think if I keep doing those little things with those two pitches, good things are going to happen for me and for the team,” Perez said. “So I’m just going to stay focused and play hard and see what happens.”
Perez left as a free agent after the 2018 season to sign with the Twins, played one season in Minnesota and two more in Boston. Now, he’s back in Texas with no hard feelings.
“What is done is done,” Perez said. “I was a different guy with my mentality. I’m more experienced and more grown up. As you get older and learn from experiences, you try not to (make mistakes) again. Being back here is big for me. I want to be a good teammate and a good leader.
“I have more conviction. When you have that, you can do it. I’m going out there with confidence. I’m happy to be back home.”
Perez is 7-5 with a 3.90 ERA in his career against the Angels. He’s held Mike Trout to a .250 average (8 for 32), but also has walked Trout 11 times and allowed one homer, one double and one triple to the Angels star.
Left-hander Jose Suarez (0-1, 4.15) will start for Los Angeles.
Suarez gave up two runs and two hits and walked four in 4 1/3 innings to the Houston Astros last Sunday.
Taylor Ward joined the Angels roster and was in the starting lineup Saturday in right field after missing the first week of the season because of a strained groin. He had two hits in the Angels’ 7-2 win, including a home run.
With Trout firmly entrenched in center field, Angels manager Joe Maddon plans to rotate Ward, Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh at the corner outfield spots. With the Rangers throwing lefty Taylor Hearn on Saturday, the left-handed hitting Marsh was on the bench, with Ward in right field and Adell in left.
The outfield likely will look the same Sunday with the Rangers throwing another lefty in Perez. And with Adell (5 for 26, two homers, three RBIs, .692 OPS) and Marsh (6 for 21, one homer, seven RBIs, .861 OPS) still trying to find their rhythm at the plate, Ward stands to get plenty of at-bats.
“He’ll play as often as he can,” Maddon said. “It depends on who the other (corner) outfielder is if he’s in right or left. That’s still up for debate. But I want his bat out there as often as we can.”
–Field Level Media