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Controlled Perisho may be left-handed complement

By Tom D'Angelo


FORT MYERS -- Matt Perisho is hoping to settle down this season.


The left-hander, who has pitched in 17 cities during 11 professionals seasons, would like to call South Florida home. The journey has come attached with one recurring label: Perisho has a difficult time finding the plate.


"That's what I heard about him,'' Marlins pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal said.


Perisho, 28, is looking to shed that reputation as he attempts to solidify a spot in the Marlins bullpen.


"The drive for me right now it to prove everybody wrong,'' Perisho said. "The control thing has come up here. I've never bought into what people were saying. There have been mechanical struggles over the years, there's been mental struggles at times and there are some adjustment to be made.''


Perisho retired the only batter he faced Wednesday during the Marlins' 6-5 loss to Minnesota, strengthening his chances to occupy one of the left-handed spots in the bullpen. He got left-hander Mike Ryan to ground out to first base with a runner on third in the sixth inning. Perisho is one of about nine pitchers vying for three spots, but in reality, four left-handers -- Perisho, Franklyn Gracesqui, Tommy Phelps and Michael Tejera -- are fighting for one or two spots.


"A specialist would be fine with me,'' Perisho said. "I just really like pitching when the game is on the line.''


The Marlins adjusted Perisho's delivery early in spring, lining him up so he does not fly open and getting his front arm higher so he's throwing more over the top than from the side.


The results have been positive. In 6 2/3 innings, Perisho has walked two. He has a 1.42 ERA. From 1997 to 2002, Perisho pitched 215 innings for Anaheim, Texas and Detroit, and walked 125, an average of 5.2 per nine innings.


"I haven't seen any control problems,'' Rosenthal said. "He's been around the plate, he hasn't been wild. He's throwing strikes and getting guys out.''


Perisho was selected by the Angels in the third round in 1993. He made his professional debut five years later and was permanently moved to the bullpen in 2001, saying pitching in relief was "the most fun'' he's had playing baseball.


But the numbers didn't improve and Perisho's big league statistics (4-14, 7.07 ERA) prove how desperate teams are for left-handers.


Perisho admitted as much saying, "I figure I'm left-handed, everybody wants a lefty,'' when asked if he thought he might be out of chances when he played in Venezuela this winter hoping to be noticed.


He was, by his own manager, Luis Dorante, who manages the Marlins Class A affiliate in Jupiter and recommended his pitcher to the organization, Perisho's sixth. Perisho was 8-2 overall and had a 1.98 ERA in 13 2/3 innings in the playoffs.


"I've watched enough baseball through the years to know my stuff compared to the other people's stuff,'' Perisho said. "If I can throw strikes, I'll be all right.''

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