Oliver Perez sharp in Mets win

March 12, 2008 6:18:45 PM PDT
Orlando Hernandez tested his new delivery in a simulated game Wednesday, throwing 60 pitches in three 20-pitch sessions against hitters.Afterward, the New York Mets' right-hander, whose pitches seemed to lack their usual zip, declared himself ready for Grapefruit League action and said he expects to be ready for opening day.

"I don't see why he can't be," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "If he says he can be ready then I believe him."

When pressed about whether the new windup might affect Hernandez's ability to deceive hitters, Randolph said people don't give El Duque enough credit for his stuff.

"I think his mystique is his ability to get people out," Randolph said. "The kick didn't really get people out. He does it so early that there isn't a lot of deception to it. It's more about his timing."

The new delivery is designed to keep Hernandez's right foot flat on the mound to relieve pressure on a bothersome bunion.

Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson downplayed the apparent lack of life on Hernandez's pitches, saying Wednesday was more about the right-hander getting comfortable throwing all his pitches with the new leg kick.

Oliver Perez was sharp in New York's 6-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, allowing one run and three hits in four innings. Angel Pagan added to his strong spring with a pinch-hit, two-run homer.

Pagan, batting .419 with 10 RBIs, sent a high fastball from Rob Bukvich well over the right-center fence to put the Mets on top 4-2.

The Orioles jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Jay Gibbons doubled and scored on Aubrey Huff's single to center off Perez, who settled down and allowed just one more hit the rest of the way.

"Right now, I feel strong," Perez said. "I threw all four of my pitches, I was good locating my fastball and my slider was where I wanted it to be."

Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie struck out four, allowing one run and three hits in four innings.

Mets slugger Carlos Delgado struck out three times, giving him five consecutive strikeouts in his last two games. Delgado, working his way back from a hip injury, is batting .091 this spring.

"He's only got 10 at-bats," Randolph said. "There are a lot of guys who are not spring training hitters and he's one. He's going to need a lot more at-bats under his belt before you start looking at something like that."

Carlos Beltran went 0-for-3 with a walk as the Mets' designated hitter. Randolph said Beltran is getting real close to being ready to play the outfield.

Second baseman Luis Castillo is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut sometime this weekend, Randolph said.