Perry makes big league debut
Homegrown talent gets first start in right at Turner Field
ATLANTA -- With one power-hitting, homegrown outfielder out of the lineup for at least 10 days, the Braves hope another can provide the spark they desperately need.
Jason Perry, who hails from nearby Jonesboro, was recalled from Triple-A Richmond on Friday after the Braves optioned struggling right fielder Jeff Francoeur to Double-A Mississippi.
Perry was in the Braves' starting lineup, batting eighth and playing right field, during Friday night's series opener against the Astros. After he hit an RBI triple to right field in his first Major League at-bat, Perry received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd at Turner Field. He became the first Braves player to record a triple in his first career at-bat and the first Brave since Martin Prado to have a triple as his first hit, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Prado accomplished the feat on April 23, 2006.
"Got to sneak into the record books somehow," Perry said.
When Perry entered the Braves' clubhouse on Friday, he briefly caught up with Mark Teixeira, whom he played with for two years (2000-2001) at Georgia Tech.
"We hung out a lot in college," Teixeira said. "We were a very close team at Georgia Tech and he was definitely one of the guys."
Unlike Teixeira, Perry, 27, has followed a circuitous route to the Majors.
Originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Perry bounced around in Oakland and Detroit before he was released by the Tigers in the spring. The Braves inquired, and Perry began the season at Mississippi. After performing well there, he was promoted to Richmond, where he batted .302 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 31 games before his callup.
"Talking to the Triple-A staff, they said he's swinging the bat great, so again, we talked about corner outfield, we need production," said general manager Frank Wren, whose team will be without Francoeur for at least 10 days as he attempts to find his swing in Mississippi.
The left-handed-hitting Perry combined to hit 18 homers and 55 RBIs in 69 games with Mississippi and Richmond this season.
"He's got a lot of homers, and he's always hit," manager Bobby Cox said.
Perry said he was notified of his promotion while driving home from Norfolk, Va., on Thursday night. Shocked, he and his wife boarded an early-morning flight, and he said plenty of friends and family will be in attendance for his Major League debut on Friday night.
"It's the same game, the difference is I'm at the top level and the stadiums are bigger," said Perry, who can play both corner outfield positions.
It would seem to be a difficult time for Perry to enter the mix, given the Braves' five-game losing streak and the demotion of Francoeur. But both he and Teixeira don't view it that way.
"Obviously, we don't expect him to come in here and try to do more than he's capable of," Teixeira said. "But if he can just go out there and perform up to his ability, then he'll be fine."
"I'm just here right now to try and help the team win," Perry said.
Ryan Lavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.