Nationals' Perez Adds Final Dimension To His Game





WASHINGTON—Center fielder Eury Perez had another solid season and made his major league debut in September. For the most part, he simply played like he has since signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, yet there's one area where he felt like he improved.

"My defense is much better," Perez said. "I have about the same approach on offense, but I really worked hard on defense with Tony Tarasco and Tony Beasley."

Tarasco, a roving coordinator, and Beasley, the manager at Triple-A Syracuse, had a lot to work with in the 22-year-old Perez. He played all three outfield positions for Beasley.

"That was kind of how we wanted it," Beasley said. "He has a slightly above-average arm, so he can play right as well as the other two."

The righthanded-hitting Perez batted .299/.325/.342 in 351 at-bats for Double-A Harrisburg, earning a late-July promotion to Syracuse, where he hit .333 in 40 games. At those two stops, he stole 46 bases in 61 attempts.

With Syracuse, Perez hit .406 in 32 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

"He was never overwhelmed by the ability of guys to have savvy as far as nibbling the strike zone, throwing certain pitches and changing speeds," Beasley said. "None of that fazed him."

Perez spent September with the Nationals, serving mostly as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement. He went 1-for-5 at the plate with no walks or strikeouts, but he went 3-for-3 in stolen-base attempts.

"They've been crucial, at important times in the ballgames," Beasley said.

Perez's first (and only) major league hit came when he pinch-hit for Bryce Harper in the eighth inning of a 12-2 home win against the Brewers.

Perez, outfielder Corey Brown and catcher Sandy Leon traveled to Viera, Fla., to work out and stay fresh while the Nationals played in their first postseason, but the 25-man roster remained intact during the Division Series loss to the Cardinals.

Still, Perez has given himself a chance to play in even more important games in the near future.

CAPITAL GAINS

• Second baseman Tony Renda, a second-round pick this year, was one of the players who impressed farm director Doug Harris in instructional league. "He was consistent offensively and defensively," he said.

Justin Miller, a corner infielder/outfielder at low Class A Hagerstown, tried his hand at catcher in instructional league. Harris said outfielder Kevin Keyes and third baseman Matt Skole each saw time at first base to add versatility.