SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Ordinarily, a championship ring would make a player one of the stars of the clubhouse in winter ball. But Juan Perez found himself among some pretty big names when he played for Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League.
Perez played on the same team as Manny Ramirez, Miguel Tejada and Rafael Furcal in the offseason. Yes, all of those guys are still swinging bats, and in the case of Ramirez, swinging well. The 42-year-old former Red Sox star batted .409 with six homers in 41 games for Aguilas, and Perez took advantage of his time with one of the best pure hitters of his generation.
“It was a really good experience,” he said. “He’s a guy that still has that work ethic and he knows his stuff when it comes to hitting. He taught me about rotation of the hips and using your legs.”
Perez is using some of the drills and stretches that Ramirez taught him. “Hopefully it works,” he said, smiling.
A candidate to make the Opening Day roster as the fifth outfielder, Perez said he’s looking for more consistency at the plate. He has never been able to carry his gaudy Triple-A numbers over to the big leagues, but still provides plenty of value with his glove. Perez has a minor league option remaining and the Giants have four outfielders locked onto their Opening Day roster. Travis Ishikawa is taking fly balls in left this spring and can be the fifth outfielder if needed, with Perez possibly a short drive away at Triple-A Sacramento. So, Perez has his work cut out for him, but that’s what we’re here for in March.
Other news and notes from the day it was supposed to rain but didn’t …
HEALTH WATCH: Manager Bruce Bochy watched right-hander Sergio Romo throw a bullpen session and said Romo was “letting it go today. He wasn’t hesitating at all. He looks good.” Romo has been slowed by a sore shoulder, but he’s not far from game action. Today’s bullpen session was his second one in three days.
LOOKING AHEAD: Bochy said Angel Pagan likely will not make the trip to Mesa for Tuesday's first Cactus League game. Pagan is a couple of days behind because of neck soreness, but he took part in the workout Sunday.
STOCK UP: George Kontos has looked really sharp during two live BP sessions, showing good life on his fastball and really sharp bite on his go-to slider. Kontos works harder than most in the offseason, and it’s clear he’s pretty far ahead of hitters at the moment. The right-hander finds himself in a tough spot because there’s probably just one bullpen spot open and Kontos and Jean Machi are both out of options. One of them could be traded by the end of the month.
STOCK DOWN: The status of the intrasquad game. If you’re in the area and you were planning to come out and watch, don’t. It’s supposed to rain all day Monday, so the Giants won’t hold the annual scrimmage. It’s too bad, that’s always a good chance to see younger players and backups. In 2012, that’s when we first realized that Gregor Blanco would make a strong push to make the team. He dominated that intrasquad game.
QUOTABLE: “You could see he’s free and easy now. He’s healthy and he’s come back throwing really from the position he was when he came up.” — Bochy on Matt Cain, who threw to hitters on a back field.
Cain got a rude welcome when Travis Ishikawa greeted him with a series of line drives. The right-hander reached back and threw a fastball past Ishikawa.
“Finally,” Cain yelled.