PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- New York Mets pitcher Oliver Perez hit a Sports Illustrated photographer on a leg with one of his warmup pitches. His control improved, his results did not.
Perez walked only one batter in two innings, but gave up four runs and five hits as the New York Mets lost 5-4 to the Detroit Tigers in their spring training opener Wednesday."I got hit pretty good," said the photographer, John Iacono, who was shooting from near the backstop before the game. "At the last minute, I saw it coming. I turned my left leg just enough so I didn't get it head on."Tigers manager Jim Leyland told Iacono to have trainers look at the leg, which was hit just below the knee. Iacono, who stopped shooting the game after the fourth inning, had about 15 minutes of ice and had the leg wrapped. He said after the game that he wasn't feeling too good and that he might have the leg X-rayed.As for Perez, he is focusing on improving his mechanics and keeping his shoulder from flying open. He was 1-3 with a 6.38 ERA in seven regular-season starts last year with the Mets, who acquired him from Pittsburgh, and 3-13 with a 6.55 ERA in 22 major league starts overall."I don't want too much pressure because I know what happened last year," Perez said. "I just have to learn and keep working."Becoming only the second pitcher with a regular-season record 10 games under .500 to start a postseason game, Perez helped the Mets beat St. Louis in Game 4 of the NL championship series, then allowed one run in six innings in Game 7."He has great stuff," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "He's probably got some of the best stuff that we have in the camp, from the left side anyway. Yeah, I like him."Against the Tigers, the 25-year-old left-hander gave up a solo homer to Ryan Raburn on a changeup."I was happy with the way he threw today," Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "I think a couple years ago he might have went out there and just tried to throw 100 miles per hour. Today he worked on throwing strikes."Julio Franco had a two-run single for the Mets. Randolph said he's not concerned with early results from spring training."I'm going to sit back and enjoy baseball and watch these guys work," he said. "Towards the end of spring training, when we start putting our squad together, then we'll evaluate everyone's performance."Chad Durbin pitched two shutout innings without allowing a hit for the Tigers. Durbin and Zach Miner both hit batters.Sean Casey went 1-for-2 with a double, and Marcus Thames had two hits, including a double. Omar Infante was picked off by Willie Collazo in the seventh inning.
Mets RHP Orlando Hernandez threw 41 pitches off a mound and threw off flat ground for the first time since receiving a cortisone shot for arthritis in his neck last Thursday. Hernandez said he felt fine. ... New York 2B Jose Valentin said he probably will return to the field in a couple days after injuring his right foot in an intrasquad scrimmage on Monday. ... Mets closer Billy Wagner gave up a run in an inning.