Matthew Cerrone: Obviously you’ve seen the reports this morning and you tweeted this morning that you don’t necessarily agree that this could be Oliver Perez’s last start. So, what’s going on down there?
Rich Coutinho: The microscope will be on him today – there is no question about that. I just think with the lack of left-handed options they have for the bullpen I really don’t think this is the last hooray for Oliver, no matter what happens today. I do think he’ll be given another opportunity. Now, whether he gets that in a start in another Spring Training game, that’s up in the air. It’s just, none of the left-handed options in the bullpen have stood out. I know they like Tim Byrdak, but I just think it’s a little premature – even if after a bad start today – to say Ollie has pitched his last game for the Mets. Terry Collins was pretty clear about it yesterday when he asked if this could be his last chance at starting. He said it’s highly unlikely it’ll be his last chance, and he’ll probably get another opportunity. I think if we’re having this conversation the next time he starts, I think certainly it could be the last one. I just have a hard time believing that after two appearances in Spring Training that that’s going to be his only opportunity to make the team. The rotation is a whole other question.
Matthew Cerrone: I never got the impression from people close to the team that he was ever competing for the rotation. I know what they’re saying in public, and that’s the right way to do it. But, I mean, I don’t believe any one other than Ollie actually thinks he stands a chance at being in the rotation.
Rich Coutinho: If you read between the lines, Terry keeps saying Ollie needs to throw strikes, he needs to keep the ball over the plate consistently. Those are skills you need in the bullpen. And, for him to be used in the bullpen, Matt, it’ll be clearly a huge jump for him because he’s a guy who needs a lot of time to warm up and that’s a whole other issue nobody has talked about. He’ll have to warm up in 8 or 10 minutes, and he usually takes 15 to 20 minutes to warm up – not to mention do it twice in three days, three times in five days. These are all things we don’t know if he can do.
Matthew Cerrone: Well, even with those things aside, I was led to believe months ago by people close to the team that the only chance he had of making the roster was if guys like Byrdak, Mike O’Conner, even Chris Capuano, all failed, leaving the Mets no other choice in the bullpen. I still see plenty of evidence this is still the case. In regards to the Daily News report, and I’m not questioning Andy Martino’s sources, but, do you think this might all just be a case of semantics. You know like I do, these things are left up quite often to interpretation. Plus, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out Terry isn’t 100 percent aware of every thought going around the front office, nor should he be. His job is to manage the team on field. So, maybe this end-game for Ollie is actually being talked about, now, today, as they think ahead, but maybe it isn’t so immeninet, and maybe Terry isn’t even aware of those preliminary thoughts. Is that possible, you think?
Rich Coutinho: I think that’s fair to say. I can only go by what I know and what I hear, and what I hear is nothing is imminent. Of course, we all know that things can change on a dime in baseball.