Tigers take patient route with Perry
Leyland understands there will be ups, downs with righty
DETROIT -- The Tigers put Ryan Perry on their Opening Day roster knowing he would have days like Tuesday. They also took him with the willingness to work through them.
"I've got patience with talent," said manager Jim Leyland after his rookie reliever walked two batters along with a hit and a sacrifice bunt to take the loss in the Tigers' 11-0 rout to the Yankees.
For all the attention given to the 22-year-old right-hander and his power arsenal, it's easy to forget the learning gap he faces from a short stint in Class A ball to the Majors. Leyland and team officials took Perry with them out of Spring Training with the expectation that he would have challenges, but that he could also learn and work through them at the highest level.
That's the process he's going through now. Outings like Tuesday, Leyland said, are part of it.
Much like Joel Zumaya during his rookie season of 2006, Leyland took Perry to pitch him in some big situations rather than hide him for mop-up duty. Considering he has three holds through 20 games this season, he already has pitched in his share of tight games. His wildest outings arguably came in two games that were blowouts before he entered, walking two Rangers in a 15-2 win on April 10 before nearly hitting White Sox batters four times in a 9-0 win on April 15.
Tuesday was obviously a huge situation, and his command woes resurfaced. He threw just eight of his 18 pitches for strikes, though he realistically wasn't wild, and both of the Yankees he walked came around to score. Once Josh Anderson's fielding error brought in two runs, Perry was on the hook for his first Major League loss.
After Nick Swisher's leadoff single and two pitches into Melky Cabrera's walk, Leyland came out to the mound for what was a very brief mound visit. In no more than a few seconds, Leyland had made his point and headed back to the dugout, but it wasn't the kind of message many would expect.
"I just told him, 'Don't worry about it. Don't let up. Go right at them,'" Leyland said.
In other words, don't back down. It was similar to the message Leyland gave Perry on his way back into the dugout after his White Sox outing, when the righty and Josh Fields exchanged words following a high and inside fastball.
"I'm not going to get all up in a bind over one outing," Leyland said. "We knew coming in here that there's going to be times that you saw [Tuesday night]. That happens. But that's OK. There's a learning curve now and then.
"I'm certainly not going to give up on Perry after one outing like that. That's nasty stuff. He can mishit the bat a lot, but obviously, he has to throw strikes."
The plan is to get past the curve, not just with Perry but with starter Rick Porcello, and to let them learn from those struggles in the Majors.
"They're a little green yet," Leyland said of Perry and Porcello. "That's the way it is. But there's a lot of talent between those two guys. I've always said I'll take talent. If it gets to point where it looks like they can't do it, then we'll address that later on, but I think they can."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.