As we have all learned over the years, initial reports of celebrity deaths are often wrong. One hopes that is the case here, but as of now, two Spanish language newspapers are reporting that former major league pitcher Pascual Perez was murdered in a robbery in his home this morning in the Dominican Republic.
The reports come from the Dominican Republic newspapers “Hoy,” and “Diaro Libre,” each of which report that Perez was killed by an intruder in his home during a robbery in the early morning hours. We will update with any further confirmation, including any English-language reports that come out. UPDATE: The official Twitter of the Montreal Expos (note: how can a non-existent team’s Twitter be official?) is saying the reports are true.
Perez was one of the game’s great characters and unique talents. He compiled a 67-68 record with a 3.44 ERA and 822 strikeouts in 1244.1 innings for the Pirates, Braves, Expos and Yankees between 1980 and 1991. He may have been better known for his non-pitching exploits, however.
He threw eephus pitches. He’d check the runners on base by bending over and looking at them between his legs. He once famously missed a start for the Braves in 1982 when he could not find Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium as he circled I-285. Which was strange, because it was his third home game for the Braves which meant that he had found the park previously. Someone made a pretty sweet poster commemorating the event. He was flamboyant on the mound, taunting the opposition and often causing brawls.
On a sadder note, he was arrested for cocaine in the Dominican Republic during the 1983-84 offseason and missed playing time because of it. Later, he was suspended for violating the league’s drug policy, which ended his career.
David Meadvin and Larry Koestler wrote a definitive profile of Perez over at River Ave. Blues last winter. Go check it out.
Bad news for a colorful figure in baseball history.
On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.
Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.
Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.
Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.
The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.
Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.
Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”
“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”
Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.