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05/05/09 6:55 PM ET

Perez aims to rebuild confidence in 'pen

Left-hander determined to make it back into starting rotation

ATLANTA -- Oliver Perez has lost his way on the mound before, being sent back to the Minors by the Pirates in 2006 to work out his problems.

The left-hander feels that his woes aren't as significant this time and that the Mets' bullpen is the right place for him to get back on track.

"We made a really good move," Perez said Tuesday. "I wasn't doing my job as a starting pitcher. Going to the bullpen will help me get my confidence back."

Perez won 25 games the past two years with the Mets, but he's struggled mightily this season after getting a three-year, $36 million deal to stay with the team as a free agent. He had a 9.97 ERA in his five starts, with more walks than strikeouts.

"I've been in this position before," Perez said. "I've had ups and downs. I understand what I have to do to get better."

Perez insisted that he wasn't nearly as off course this season as he was in 2006, when he was eventually acquired by the Mets from the Pirates.

"That was worse," he said. "I was thinking too much. ... I was thinking about my legs, everything when I pitched. I couldn't enjoy the game. I was putting too much pressure on myself."

Perez declined to talk to the media Monday after being told he was being sent to the bullpen. But he freely answered questions a day later.

"All my teammates here tell me, 'We understand you can do this. You are better than that,'" Perez said.

"I just want to be ready to help my team," he continued. "I'm trying to get everything together to come back as a starting pitcher."

Mets manager Jerry Manuel reiterated Tuesday that he doesn't know how long Perez will be in the bullpen.

"I haven't even thought about a timetable," Manuel said.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.