Perez "sad to go" but excited for opportunity with Cubs
Outfielder Fernando Perez will always remember his time with the Rays fondly, saying it's hard to trump all the relationships he built, and memories he had.
But Perez, 27, was still "very excited" for the new opportunity with the Cubs, who are reportedly acquiring him in the Matt Garza trade.
"I think there's a lot of reasons I really liked the Rays, it's the only place I've ever known," Perez said in a telephone interview Friday night. "I loved it there. And I'm prone to sentimentalism. ..But the opportunity is probably better (in Chicago), so I'm excited. I would have loved for it to have worked out in Tampa Bay, and it was probably going to happen before I hurt my wrist (in spring training 2009) and everyone forgot my name."
Perez, a speedy, switch-hitting outfielder who played a role off the bench in the Rays World Series run in 2008, appeared in line to make the Opening Day roster the following year until he dislocated his wrist diving for a fly ball in a spring training exhibition. Injuries have set him back the last couple seasons, but Perez said he's healthy now, and rejuvinated after the offseason, one of the better ones he's had in his life.
"I'm looking totally ahead," he said. "Who wouldn't want to play for the Cubs?"
Perez said the trade hasn't really sunk in yet - it stll hasn't officially been announced. But he appreciated getting a call from a Rays representative Friday morning letting him know what might happen. And he was really happy to hear from Cubs GM Jim Hendry this afternoon. Perez said Hendry told him there were people within the organization that had wanted him for a while and were excited for him to have him.
And Perez will have some familiar faces this spring training, with ex-Rays Garza and 1B Carlos Pena being there.
"I'm really, really excited," Perez said. "I'm sad to go. .. I know this is a business, and that's how it works."
-- JOE SMITH