Oliver Perez Comes Back as Damaged Goods

The Mets suffered through a vintage Oliver Perez start on Wednesday. Six walks in three and two-thirds innings is nothing new for the wild lefty, but the Mets aren't chalking it up to his infamous inconsistency. They're blaming his stint with the Mexican World Baseball Classic squad, a stint that left Perez out of shape and unable to compete effectively according to pitching coach Dan Warthen.

"I was a little reticent when he left, and my worries have come to fruition," Warthen said. "I think he needs the camaraderie of people that push him. So yes, I think he's a guy that needs to stay with the group and be hands on. Ollie's a guy that has to repeat his delivery time and time again, with a lot of volume delivery-wise. Yes, it set him back. He's set back probably at least 10 days."

It's true that Perez didn't get enough work during the WBC, and that's something that should concern the Mets, but is Warthen really saying that he needs round-the-clock supervision to be a successful pitcher? How do you give $36 million to someone that you can't trust to keep himself in shape less than a month before the season starts?

Warthen sounds like the concerned parent of an adolescent who started wearing black nail polish after a summer program at some liberal arts college. He says Perez isn't energetic around the clubhouse, spends all his time with the door locked and listens to copious amounds of indie rock. Or maybe just the lack of energy, but the point is that using the Mexican team like some bad crowd of teenaged peers is absolving Perez of his adult responsibility to do his job.

Maybe the Mets should assign one of the minor league players to be Perez's life coach. He could make sure that Perez's meals feature the major food groups, and help him get dressed and to the ballpark on time. Otherwise poor Ollie could just sit on the 7 train as it loops between Manhattan and Queens, locked in a cage of his own apathy.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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