It might be unfair, but there is no question there is added pressure this year on Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez.
The 22-year-old, who will turn 23 shortly after making his first start of the 2014 season, is entering the year as a guy the Rangers are relying heavily upon coming off his breakout 2013, in which he went 10-6 with a 3.62 ERA after cracking the big-league rotation in June. His breakout year earned him a big-time contract extension — a bargain for the club, and a financial gain for him.
Perez told ESPN Dallas he's working on adding another pitch to his arsenal, as he's hoping to be able to rely more heavily on a cut fastball as a "power pitch" to help off-set his plus changeup.
“Everybody knows I have a good changeup, but I wanted something with speed,” Perez said. “This year, my curve is better and I wanted to try the cutter. In the past, I tried it and if it wasn’t good, I’d throw it out. But now I’ve got more confidence. I can throw it and I feel great.”
Perez hit the bigs in 2012, and things didn't go too well as his perceived status in the organization took a hit at such a young age. But in 2013, Perez said he changed his mental approach and began trying to pitch to hitters and not just blow them away.
“I understand the process now,” Perez said. “If I look behind a few years ago, I was just trying to throw hard. Now, it’s not how hard you throw, but where you throw the ball and how you pitch. That’s the difference four years ago and now. I’m learning how I need to pitch and where to throw the ball.