Rays' Perez shows speed in his debut

TORONTO — No surprise that Fernando Perez was quick to make a good impression.

The speedy outfielder made his major-league debut as a pinch-runner in the seventh inning Friday, stayed in the game and got his first hit on a ninth-inning bunt by sliding into first to avoid the tag, then scored from first.

"He's got a jet, properly placed," manager Joe Maddon said. "He can go. He can absolutely go."

Perez, 25, called up Sunday from Triple A and postseason-eligible, said he got his first hit exactly as he expected — and had done before, including the fadeaway slide.

"If you had asked me what my first major-league hit was going to be, I knew it would be a bunt," Perez said. "It was a perfect situation for it."

And he wasn't a bit nervous.

"This is strictly business here," Perez said. "I think that there'd probably be nerves when you're on a team that's not in it. But I think for me it was very relaxing to be in there knowing I have a very specific job to do."

Perez had a "joke souvenir" waiting in his locker — detailed with misspellings, sloppy handwriting and the description that he "outran slow first baseman" for the hit. "This one's better than the real one," Perez said.

SWING TIME: Today should be a significant test in 3B Evan Longoria's recovery from a fractured right wrist as he resumes swinging after a four-day break due to soreness.

Longoria got a good report from Dr. Doug Carlan after a Thursday night checkup and plans to work his way up from a plastic bat to a broomstick-style stick to a regular bat.

"I'm pretty hopeful now because my wrist feels great after taking four days off," he said.

Once he can tolerate swinging against pitched balls, the Rays forecast two or three days of batting practice before he rejoins the lineup. They may consider using him just to play defense given he has no problems throwing.

"He felt encouraged by what the doctor said and saw, so we're going to try and move this along a little bit at a time," Maddon said. "We thought it may have been sooner, but we're going to have to try to continue to be patient, and we're not going to rush through anything right now; we just want to make sure that he's well.

"So that's a nice, actually a significant, first step."

WELL-COVERED: With extra OFs Perez and Justin Ruggiano aboard, and utilityman Ben Zobrist an impressive fill-in, Rocco Baldelli likely will be limited to DH and pinch-hit duties. "I think that keeps him fresher," Maddon said.

GOING DEEPEST?: The Rays were still talking about Alex Rodriguez's home run off Jason Hammel on Thursday that hit the D-ring. They were equally surprised it was estimated — by Rays employee Joe Schultz using charts based on trajectory and distance — at only 436 feet. Hittrackeronline.com, which plugs similar data into a computer program, estimated a "standard" distance of only 407 feet and a "true" distance of 408.

"That's only because something stopped it," said Maddon, who was among those claiming it was the longest home run they have seen hit at the Trop.

The record is 478 feet by ex-Ray Vinny Castilla in 2001.

MISCELLANY: RHP Andy Sonnanstine allowed a third-inning homer for the fourth straight game. … RHP James Shields today seeks his career-high 13th win. … Triple-A Durham's International League playoff game against Louisville was postponed due to inclement weather and rescheduled for tonight; the best-of-five series is tied 1-1. … Troy Percival was available for Thursday's sudden save situation, but Maddon opted for Dan Wheeler since he was already up and could get ready quicker.

Rays' Perez shows speed in his debut 09/05/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 3:01pm]

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