Ryan Perry, the 21st overall pick in the 2008 Draft, earned his way onto the Tigers roster with less than a year of professional experience by posting an 0.84 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings in Spring Training. So far, he's been unfazed by Major League competition. His size (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) combined with a fastball that reaches 98 mph have Tiger fans wondering if he might become a closer sometime in the future. But at 22, the former University of Arizona star is content to be called on at crunch time in big league games. He recently answered some questions from MLBPLAYERS.com:
MLBPLAYERS.com: How would you describe your big league experience so far?
Perry: It has been pretty cool, especially since I wasn't drafted that long ago. It definitely is a thrill to be playing with guys I watched on TV growing up. I admired these guys, and to play with them now is unbelievable.
MLBPLAYERS.com: After you finished your brief Minor League season last year, how did you get ready for Spring Training?
Perry: I took the next couple of months off and then started throwing again in early January. That helped prepare me for the spring and for coming into a big league camp for the first time. At first, it was sort of intimidating, but the guys treated me really well. It was easy to fit in here and not be starstruck or anything.
MLBPLAYERS.com: When you signed your contract, did you envision being here so quickly?
Perry Not at all. I knew there was a slim chance going in, but I knew I would have to pitch really well. I came in and did throw pretty well, however. I'm happy with how everything turned out, but going back to the day I signed the contract, I never really thought it would take me to where I'm at today.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Another Tigers pitcher, Rick Porcello, is in the same situation as you -- he too was recently drafted and made the big club for the first time this year. How much does that help you?
Perry: We're going through everything together. We're pretty good friends, and it gives me someone to hang out with on a regular basis. We're still both so new to this. We try to help each other out.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Can you talk about how you and Rick were told that you had made this team coming out of Spring Training?
Perry: We walked into the office, and our manager and our general manager started asking us some questions. Then they said we were young and that we were going down to get more experience under our belts. It was quiet for a good five seconds, and then the silence was broken by them asking if we knew that it was April Fools' Day.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What was going through your mind when they asked you that?
Perry: We were sort of just asking, 'Um, what does that mean?' They then extended their hands to congratulate us. It was a pretty cool little joke.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You have pitched well so far at this level. How do you think you are throwing the ball?
Perry: I've thrown well. I've had problems finding the strike zone on a regular basis, though. Overall, I've gotten the pitches there when it really counts, so that's the most important thing.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Do you think that lack of command is a result of nerves?
Perry: I do feel good in the bullpen, but when you get out there in front of 40,000 people, the adrenaline starts to kick in, and your breathing gets heavier. It's something you have to expect coming in here.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What was the largest crowd you had pitched in front of before?
Perry: 10,000 people. It is a huge difference, and you have to get used to it. I am still working on getting past the rush of adrenaline.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Is that adrenaline a reason you've thrown a couple of your warmup pitches to the backstop?
Perry: Yeah, and the baseballs. Sometimes I have a hard time gripping the ball if they're not rubbed up real well. I noticed that in Detroit against the White Sox. I did not have a good feel for the ball. I was throwing balls every which way. It's a combination of that and the adrenaline.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.