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Perez cranks it up

Cardinals reliever Chris Perez, the favorite for the team's vacant closer role, faced batters today for the first time this spring, throwing 30 pitches.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan told the Associated Press that Perez threw a variety of pitches, but he is specifically concentrating on improving his breaking ball in effort to keep opposing hitters -- who already have to worry about a mid-90s fastball -- something else to think about.

“He’s making good progress,” pitching coach Dave Duncan told the AP. “The breaking ball is his project this spring, and he threw some good ones. He’s coming along.”  

No word on the results of the outing, other than that Perez is honing his mechanics and his control. But the stats really mean nothing at this point. Hitters are still in the early stages of trying to scrape the rust off their swings and get their bat speed up. When the games -- and the closer competition starts -- is when we can start to worry about strikeouts, walks and ERA.