While most people focus on Matt Garza coming to the Chicago Cubs in the eight player trade last Saturday, today Cubbies Crib is focusing on Fernando Perez. Along with Garza, Perez was also sent to the Chicago Cubs in the eight player trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Chicago Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry has always liked Perez as a player, and he was finally able to acquire him. The Cubs tried to acquire Perez prior to this Winter, and obviously they have not succeeded until now. Cubs Manager Mike Quade hinted that Perez has a good chance at making the Cubs 25 man roster, which lacks the speed and athleticism that Perez possesses. His speed, was one of the many things that Perez touched on in his interview with me for Cubbies Crib.
Cubbies Crib:You woke up today and you were a Chicago Cub, what was your reaction once learning that you had been traded?
Fernando Perez: I had mixed feelings. The first was shock. Being traded is this looming possibility you always try to maintain as a real possibility, though you can’t really fathom it until you get the call. There was a great feeling of impending adventure, especially once I heard that it was the Cubs, but there was also some regret, the feeling maybe you did something wrong, warranted or not. There was definitely plenty of sentimentality about the Rays organization. I’ve had some great memories there. Thats a huge understatement really.
Cubbies Crib:I’m sure you have heard how Cubs fans are and the atmosphere at Wrigley Field, is that something you are looking forward to- considering that Tampa Bay is not know for their Baseball atmosphere.
Fernando Perez: Certainly. The Cubs are one of the franchises that most of the other franchises will never become, no matter how many championships they may win. A cubs game is a cultural event, and being a part of that synergy is something that Im looking forward to. I have nothing bad to say about tampa, it isn’t anyone’s fault that people don’t fill that stadium. The recession doesn’t help, ball games aren’t exactly for everyone anymore ($$), but I think it’s as simple as the traffic patterns that connect tampa to st. pete where tropicana field is situated. With that situation ameliorated, the rays will get to start building the tradition that everyone associated with them (the fans, the players, the administration and staff) would like.
Cubbies Crib: What are your expectations as far as your career goes with the Chicago Cubs?
Fernando Perez: I don’t really do expectations. I’m just happy to be here. I have been a very lucky man on this planet– all of this is just more icing. I expect that the experience of trying to become a Cub this spring itself will be amazing. And getting to run around wrigley field as a Cub? I think every fan who finds your blog can imagine that themselves.
Cubbies Crib: Coming off a down 2010 season, would say you are still rehabbing from injuries you sustained?
Fernando Perez: Not anymore. I’m feeling great now. Last year was a nightmare. 2 of the three joints on my left arm were recovering from surgery and were weak. It was difficult for me to recover. Some days I felt like my old self, some days i was praying for lots of rain. This is the first real offseason I’ve had since 2005/6 when I was finishing school. ’07 I played winter ball in Mexico playing about 200 games that year, ’08 I played in Venezuela after the World Series totaling over 200 games that year. Last offseason I had surgery. This offseason with so much time on my side, I have been able to get some of the rest I need, and have also been able to actually train.
Cubbies Crib: If you were to assess yourself as a player, what would you say is best skill that you bring to a team?
Fernando Perez: I was very lucky to draw one extraordinary tool–I’m really fast. While I am very humble and self-deprecating, probably to a fault, I’m not that way about my speed because I don’t really have much to do with it. My parents did it. Pun intended. Being faster than most everyone else is pretty neat. It helps me cover more ground on defense, it helps me annoy defenses on offense; it would help in a bear attack–the bear probably isn’t getting me if there’s a few of us having a picnic.
Fernando Perez: Those guys are two of my favorite big-leaguers. If they weren’t I would skip this question. I first met Carlos during my first Major League Spring training. I was trying to lay-low and not get in the way of the veterans, and he sought me out since he hadn’t yet met me, and shook my hand like I was important, like I was Don Zimmer or something. He has always treated me like family. He can hit too. Garza will be my spring training roomate. We got to spend a lot of time together in ’09 on the bench cheerleading while i was on the DL. I got along great with all of my teammates but those guys are two of my favorites.
Cubbies Crib: Outside of baseball, what are some of the other things you like to do in your spare time?
Fernando Perez: With a lot of time, I like to travel, preferably somewhere remote and rife with natural beauty. With just an evening I like to consume art or media. I’m a bit of a mediaphile.
Cubbies Crib: Thank you for interviewing with Cubbies Crib, is there any thing else you would like to say to the fans of Chicago?
Fernando Perez: Hi!
As you all should be able to tell from the interview, Fernando Perez is a very intelligent, but also comedic person. I look forward to watching him as well as following him on twitter (@outfieldrambler) this season with the Chicago Cubs, and hopefully for the future.