Mariners' Perez had inside view of brawl
Seattle relief pitcher Oliver Perez, who played for Mexico in the WBC, was in the middle of Saturday's dustup with Canada.
As the replays would show, he was in the middle of it.
The veteran Mariners reliever found himself in the scrum of baseball players, who were pushing, shoving and eventually punching each other.
"Everyone just reacted," Perez said on Sunday morning. "Sometimes people push too hard and you can get mad. Normally when you go out there, you're trying to separate your teammates so nobody can get hurt. When fights go wild, anybody can get hurt and that can hurt your career. That's a tough time. But when you're in there, it's just reaction. You don't want anybody to punch or push you. We're humans. And in those moments, you just react."
Perez was a peacemaker for most of the fracas until a Canadian player grabbed him around the head and put him in a head lock. After that, it took two teammates to hold the incensed Perez back.
"That's how the game is," he said. "Nobody wanted to get hurt, but it's a man's sport and sometimes one gets mad and everything happens."
After things cooled off, seven players were ejected, Perez was one of them. The whole scene was regrettable.
"After the game, you still are thinking, 'What's going on? What happened?'" he said. "And when you start to see the tapes, you see it different when you are outside the lines. But when you are there, you don't have words to say. You just react."
Perez never did see teammate Michael Saunders, who played for Canada, during the scrum.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge was just happy neither of his players were hurt.
"I'm glad they didn't get into it with each other, that's for sure," Wedge said chuckling. "It's baseball and every now and then with the competition, the adrenaline takes over, the intensity takes over and it gets away from you a little bit.
But for Perez, the fight won't be his lasting memory. Getting to pitch in Mexico's 5-2 win over the U.S. on Friday night will be something he won't forget. In front of a packed house at Chase Field in Phoenix with almost 75 percent of the fans cheering for Mexico, Perez and his teammates stunned the Americans. Mexico has now beaten the U.S. in the last two WBC meetings. Perez got to pitch to one batter in relief, admitting he would have loved to pitch more. But the win was most important.
"Normally when you're trying to be one of the best teams, USA is one of the best teams and inside it's very emotional," he said. "This is the second time I think we've beat the USA and they've got a pretty good lineup and a good chance to win. Canada has a really good team."
Perez is a fan of the tourney. And you can bet he will try to play again three years from now.
"This tournament is getting better every year," he said. "You see Italy, they don't have a lot of big names, but they just want to win. They're doing everything right and I think that's why they're going to the second round. It's a great experience."
The Mariners announced that the start time for their Saturday, June 8 game with the New York Yankees has been changed to 1:20 p.m. The game had previously been scheduled for 7:10 p.m. The Mariners and Seattle Sounders, who had a home game scheduled for a similar time with the rival Vancouver Whitecaps on the same day, worked together to come up with start time to benefit fans. The Mariners moved up their time, while the Sounders will kick off at 7:30 p.m.
The Mariners-Yankees game will be still televised by ROOT SPORTS, and carried live on 710-AM.
The Mariners made their first cuts of the sprig on Sunday evening. Right-handed reliever Chance Ruffin was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma. Right-handers Jonathan Arias and D.J. Mitchell and lefty Brian Moran were optioned to minor league camp. ... Monday was an offday for the Mariners, but some players still had to get work in. Pitchers Blake Beavan and Erasmo Ramirez threw simulated games to keep them on their throwing schedules. Unofficially, Beavan pitched 41/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits with six strikeouts. Ramirez pitched five innings, giving up three runs on 10 hits with seven strikeouts. The Mariners return to Cactus League action today as they host the Arizona Diamondbacks. Felix Hernandez will make his second start of the spring. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. There will be no live local radio broadcast of the game.
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