Interview With Fernando Perez

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.

Otherwise, I try to be a good teammate although i think it’s overrated in a sense.   If i was a GM i think i’d rather have a 25 amazing players that were total pricks, over a bunch of sweethearts and model citizens having a ‘good time’ at the park. Its all about performance, and ultimately, wins, so if a volatile work environment fosters a 110 game winning team, fine.  But since Im not a GM and Im a player, I am a good teammate because I think there’s so much distraction and negative stimulus that constantly threatens a team, a team can find solace in good citizenship and support from teammates.  The 25 brilliant performers that wore headphones all day, i wouldn’t want to be a part of that team.  For me, the work environment is the most important thing, so i try to contribute to that.
Cubbies Crib: How well is your relationship with former Rays’ teammates and now Cubs’ teammates Matt Garza, and Carlos Pena?

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.

Topics: Carlos Pena, Chicago Cubs, Fernando Perez, Jim Hendry, Matt Garza, Mike Quade, Tampa Bay Rays

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  • demonopie

    “ameliorated” and “prick” in the same interview. A walking dichotomy.

  • tex

    Nice to get some speed on the Cubs! Here is some thought..The Cubs just signed Reed Johnson to a minor league contract…Do you think that since the Cubs are not able to trade Fukodome because of his contract….they look to move Marlon Byrd? Quade mentioned that he would like Perez to be on the 25 man roster…So I am thinking that maybe they trade Byrd, platoon Reed Johnson and Fukodome in CF(until Brett Jackson is ready) and use Perez as a defensive replacement for Soriano and as a pinch runner. Your thoughts?????

    • Luke Blaize

      Fukudome’s contract is not immovable. Hard to move, but not impossible. I think he and Byrd could both go by the end of July whether the Cubs are in contention or not. That would set up an outfield of Soriano, Jackson, Colvin, with Johnson and Perez off the bench.

      Right now, I think Reed Johnson starts the year in Iowa.

  • dan0mite

    Here’s a link to a funny video that Perez did. Carrie Muskat Tweeted it about a week or so ago.

  • tex

    Luke- I think that weakens the Cubs as well by trading Byrd and keeping Fukodome, but I am just curious on this move? I really doubt Reed Johnson would have signed with the Cubs if he thought he wouldn’t make the roster. Soriano,Byrd,Colvin,Fukodome and Perez/Reed Johnson. If Fukodome is traded….wouldn’t you rather have another lefty as a 4th of 5th outfielder??? A Perez/Reed Johnson tandem as your 4th and 5th outfielder wouldn’t make much sense.

    • Luke Blaize

      Not necessarily. If we assume both Fukudome and Byrd are traded (and if one goes there is no reason both can’t) then we already have two lefty outfield starters (Colvin and Jackson). In that scenario, you would want your OF bats off the bench to be right handed (thinking in terms of a potential double switch). The Cubs would still need at least one decent left-handed bat off the bench, but it wouldn’t have to come from the outfield. Blake DeWitt might be that bat.

      For Reed Johnson’s more immediate point of view, I expect he’ll be given a shot to win a job out of spring training. Assuming a starting 3 of Soriano, Byrd, and Colvin, Fukudome could joined on the bench by Johnson just as easily as Perez. They are fairly similar players, although Perez is faster.

      By the end of the season, though, I still think both Byrd and Fukudome will be traded. Neither fits into the Cubs long term plans, Fukudome will likely already be coming off the bench, and Byrd isn’t as good defensively as Jackson should be. Having Johnson gives the Cubs a veteran CF who can back up Jackson when Byrd is moved.

      As for why Johnson would sign with the Cubs with no guarantee of a job? From all accounts, he just loved being a Cub. If he had no clearly better offers, it could be as simple as that.

    • joehan

      tex, I think Jordan is on the right path regarding Johnson’s signing and chances of sticking on the 25 man roster on his post from a short while ago.

      Byrd’s contract makes him easier to deal from a salary standpoint, but if Johnson were to make the roster, I would have to assume that part of the reason is because Fukudome has been sent packing. With Johnson’s ability to hit vs leftys, I see him being a better fit for a platoon player role in RF, occasionally spelling Colvin vs left handers while also providing the bench depth you and I were discussing earlier. I think Byrd is better suited as the everyday CF. He would be rested occasionally with the switch hitting Perez, and Perez would also get playing time as a late inning defensive replacement for Soriano.

  • tex

    Good points but I still hope Hendry has something else in mind. I know they would like to have CF open for Jackson in 12 so that is why I was suggesting to trade Byrd. I am still concerned about the bench. Assuming Fukodome is traded….a bench of Perez,Johnson,Baker,Hill,Darwin Barney is weak as hell! I think they need to keep Fukodome or add another piece.

  • tex

    Joehan….One other major point. Fernando Perez is no longer a swtitch hitter! With his wrist injuries he is going back to strictly batting righthanded…thus my point about adding a lefthanded reserve outfielder.

  • tex

    Joehan…One other point. Fernando Perez will no longer be switchhitting. With his recent injuries…he is going back to strictly batting righthanded…

    • joehan

      Thanks for the heads up. I did not catch that. If that is the case, and assuming the Cubs will seek balance for their OF rotation, you are correct in that Perez and Johnson will be battling for the same roster spot.

      I still believe Fukudome is more expendable than Byrd in terms of the OF rotation, even though Fukudome is the lone lefty other than Colvin. I think Fukudome can put up solid numbers in a reserve roll as Jordan has mentioned in the past, but if I had to pick one of the two, I’m going with Byrd.