Huddled in his locker, massive headphones firmly over his ears and his eyes locked on the present enjoying on his iPad display in entrance of him earlier this season, Cionel Pérez startled a sleepy Orioles clubhouse into an uproar.
In response to no matter scene he watched unfold, Pérez broke the near-silence with fun — not simply any snort; a full-blown cackle that drew eyes from every nook. Rougned Odor and Anthony Santander, who had been quietly conversing in a single nook, stopped and commenced laughing amongst themselves on the scene Pérez can so often make.
That’s the impact Pérez can have on his teammates. Even when he isn’t making an attempt to be, the 26-year-old reliever is a spark plug, be it the eighth inning of an in depth sport or within the quiet pregame hours throughout a very grueling stretch.
The kind of vitality — and the place he displays it — are the one issues that differ.
“We don’t see the crazy, in-tune aggressiveness he shows on the mound [while in the bullpen],” right-hander Joey Krehbiel mentioned. “When he’s pitching, there ain’t nothing but business. And he shows it. He’s kind of scary, he’s out there yelling — I had no idea.”
But it really works for Pérez, who has realized to channel his vitality in several methods. There are the stomach laughs and video games within the clubhouse and bullpen, then the grunts and fist pumps on the mound. It’s led him to a high-leverage position with Baltimore, an indispensable left-hander out of the bullpen one season after he struggled to keep up any position with the Reds.
On his return to Cincinnati — this time with a 1.26 ERA — Pérez requested supervisor Brandon Hyde to make him out there. Pérez instructed Hyde he “was ready to face Cincinnati again,” then took the mound within the sixth inning Friday evening with two runners on base and two outs. And as soon as he left it, arms flexing and mouth agape in a yell after placing out Donovan Solano, there was a sense of vindication.
“The opportunity presented itself,” Pérez mentioned by way of crew interpreter Brandon Quinones after the 6-2 win, “and sure enough, I was able to go out there and execute and be able to do what I wasn’t able to do last year here in Cincinnati.”
When Pérez appears to be like again at his performances for the Reds earlier than he landed with the Orioles as a waiver declare, he acknowledges he didn’t have the management wanted to remain on the mound. He walked 20 batters in 24 innings.
As Pérez studied video this offseason, he observed how his physique moved ahead sooner than his arm did. The unbalanced supply led to shaky outcomes, and the shaky outcomes didn’t permit Pérez to be as passionate on the mound as he’s with Baltimore.
In the bullpen or the clubhouse, Pérez’s vitality takes the type of his laughter and jokes. He wears a billiards glove within the clubhouse when he performs pool, watches films or tv and is glued to the display when Formula One racing is on. The latter is a brand new passion, one he picked up this season for the exhilaration — the vitality, in any case, is up his alley.
During early innings, if a sport is dragging, he challenges his teammates to video games. He’ll line up cups, then problem the opposite bullpen arms to throw sunflower seeds or gum into them.
“He’s usually the one who wins,” right-hander Félix Bautista mentioned. “It’s interesting, because a lot of times when we start throwing seeds at a cup, he’ll start making a ton and he’ll be like, ‘Hey guys, this is too easy.’ So he’ll take out a bottle, cause it’s much smaller, and he’ll try to make it in a bottle.”
With these bottles, Pérez proves his pinpoint command within the bullpen. Then he takes the mound in high-pressure conditions and shows it once more, decreasing his stroll fee from 18% with the Reds to 9.3% with the Orioles.
Pérez has been this manner since he was an “explosive” child in La Habana, Cuba, operating round together with his associates all day. He wouldn’t crash till late, filled with vitality, and now he carries “that over to the mound whenever I pitch.”
The method has labored, including aptitude to a fastball that doesn’t want further life to it.
“I heard from a coach, baseball has a big on and off switch,” Krehbiel mentioned. “You don’t need to have it on all the time. But when you do, it’s gotta be all on. I feel like that’s what he takes, and he throws so freaking hard that he saves it all until he pitches.”
Sitting within the clubhouse earlier than Friday’s collection opener in opposition to the Reds, Pérez was as soon as extra huddled together with his headphones canceling out the nation music enjoying whereas his eyes remained glued to the iPad propped on his knees. There have been no hearty laughs to set the clubhouse in movement — not this time.
He was saving that vitality for the top of the sixth inning, for after he hurled the 98 mph fastball previous Solano to strand two runners. That’s when it poured out for all to see, together with any Reds followers who misplaced religion in him final season.
“I just want to go out there and keep proving it’s not just a one-year thing,” Pérez mentioned. “I want to keep proving this is going to stick around a while.”