Wednesday, May 18, 2011
#601) TIMO PEREZ
Timo Perez signed with the New York Mets as a free agent on March 17, 2000. The 25-year-old Dominican outfielder had been playing for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Japan for the previous four seasons. Timo was part of the Carp's Dominican Academy that was established to develop young talent and bring the best of the players to Hiroshima for minimum salaries, thus saving the money on higher-priced ex-big leaguers.
After hitting for a .357 batting average at Triple-A Norfolk he was promoted when rosters expanded at the end of the season. Timo made his major-league debut facing the Cardinals in St. Louis on September 1, 2000. Perez entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the ninth-inning for the Mets. He singled, but in his exuberance was thrown out stealing second base to end the inning. New York would win the contest 6-5. "I didn't hold him—I should have." offered Manager Bobby Valentine on the steal attempt.
The rookie outfielder became the sparkplug for the Mets during their 2000 postseason run. Following a knee injury to Derek Bell in the Game 2 of the National League Division Series, it was Timo who got the starting right-field assignment. Perez responded by hitting for a .300 batting average with 10 runs scored in nine postseason games entering the World Series.
Timo is haunted by a base running mistake in Game 1 of the Subway Series. During the sixth-inning of a scoreless contest it appeared that Mets' batter, Todd Zeile had hit a home run. Perez was on base and failed to run hard from the moment that the ball was hit. "I slowed up a little, I was confused by the fans," remembers Timo. "I saw everybody waving their hands. I had no experience about it. But I'll overcome it. It won't happen again." A terrific relay throw from Derek Jeter was then able to cut down the speedster at the plate. The Mets would fall to the Yankees by a score of 4-3, and eventually lose the World Series.
Perez was a part of the Mets outfield to begin the next year. Following a prolonged slump, the club optioned Timo back to Triple-A Norfolk on July 16th. "We want to give him the chance to get down there and get some regular at-bats," explained General Manager, Steve Phillips. In 48 games for the Tides he hit .359 before his recall to New York in September.
Timo remained a part of the major-league roster during the couple of seasons. He registered a .295 batting average for the 2002 campaign. It was on March 27, 2004 that the Mets traded him to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Matt Ginter. A slightly surprised Perez said he enjoyed his time in New York, "But that's baseball. Today, here. Tomorrow, Chicago." Timo was a part of the 2005 World Series Champions in Chicago.
Timo Perez signed his card in the set for me prior to the Toledo Mud Hens and Indianapolis Indians game at Victory Field on April 11, 2011.