ATLANTA -- Unaware that the Mets might need him in Monday's game, and having no reason to believe that they would, Oliver Perez spent the afternoon throwing a roughly 30-pitch bullpen session at Turner Field.
Then Mets starter Pat Misch unfolded, the bullpen phone rang, and -- for the first time since Aug. 1 -- the voice on the other line asked for "Ollie."
"I was prepared," Perez said. "I was glad they called me."
Though Perez served up a booming home run to Brian McCann on his second pitch -- an 88-mph fastball down the middle -- he did flash a slightly better fastball than he had in outings past. Perez walked two, but did not allow another run.
"I thought the velocity was a little better," manager Jerry Manuel said after the Mets' 9-3 loss. "Surprisingly, the command was better for a guy that hasn't pitched in 28 days. I'll be anxious to see how he feels [Tuesday]. Under those conditions, I thought he did well."
Though the Mets still owe Perez more than $12 million on his three-year, $36 million contract, Manuel has insisted upon only using him in blowout games -- or when he has no other choice.
As a result, Perez, who on multiple occasions has refused to accept a Minor League assignment, had gone 25 games without an appearance -- the longest such streak for any pitcher or position player in the big leagues this season.
"He's been working so hard," catcher Josh Thole said. "He goes in the bullpen and the weight room constantly, just working hard to get back out there -- and he did. He obviously doesn't throw the fastball like he used to. But I thought his slider was great."