It's time to give up your spot, Ollie

NEW YORK -- It should be a no-brainer.

But it's not, especially when you add emotion to the equation.

That's why the New York Mets are faced with a huge deadline on Saturday. Oliver Perez has to decide if he'll accept an assignment to the minor leagues.

To this point, it appears as if Perez -- the once-promising starter turned mop-up man -- has no interest in leaving the Big Apple. It's been almost 10 days since the Mets asked Perez to consider it.

Perez, who hasn't been able to help the Mets with his arm, could help them rosterwise if he could take the emotions out of it. The Mets want to reactivate lefty Jonathon Niese and need a roster spot in order to do so.

The Mets need Perez to swallow his pride, check his ego and give back to an organization that has given him plenty -- including money -- over the years.

Sometimes, it's just not about you. This is clearly one of those times.

If Perez, 28, had been productive this season, no one would be in a tough spot. But he's simply been terrible.

And when it comes to a player making a decision on his career, there is none bigger than this type.

Of course, the Mets could simply cut Perez. But that's just not going to happen. The Mets owe the lefty $20 million. There's no way, in these financial times, that the Mets are going to pour ketchup on his contract and eat it.

Hence, they are stuck, unless Perez agrees to go on the disabled list, as some teammates privately expect.

The Mets need Perez to help them out of the mess they are in.

It would be one thing if the Mets were dead and were simply going to play out the string from here on out. But the Mets, who entered Friday night's game at .500 and just five games out of first place in the National League East, are in the race. Really, they are.

Mainly it's because the division isn't really as tough as many thought it would be -- even the Phillies, who went to the World Series the last two seasons, have struggled mightily in recent weeks.

Plus, we've seen the Mets put together stretches where they look as though they could actually win the division, or at least win the wild card. And it's because of their pitching. Don't forget they shut out the Phillies three straight games.

Perez, however, hasn't been able to contribute. Coming into a weekend series with the Florida Marlins at Citi Field, Perez was 0-3 with a 6.28 ERA.

Perez was moved to the bullpen May 14. It was his first major league relief appearance since Sept. 2, 2002. Since moving to a relief role, Perez was 0-0 with a chubby 8.44 ERA in four games.

Manager Jerry Manuel is in a tight spot. Perez and Manuel are close. But when it comes to this sticky situation, Manuel has tried to be fair and balanced.

"I have conversations with him, there's no doubt about it," Manuel said. "My conversations have been just like everyone else -- to let him know how he's going to be used and to encourage him to get work.

"It would be difficult to get work here at this time. But as long as you're here we're going to do what's best and try to help you get over some of the things that you're going through."

It's easy for most to just say that Perez should simply accept it and take the hit. No player, especially someone who has had success on the major league level, wants to go back to the minors.
Fans have to understand all the hard work it took for a player to develop from a high school star to a draftee to a minor leaguer and eventually earn a call-up to The Show.

It's even harder when you've been at this level as long as Perez has. He's in his eighth season and had some big-time success in the majors. In 2007, Perez was 15-10 with a 3.56 ERA.

Now, Perez is basically useless, coming in when the game is either out of hand in favor of the Mets or when the Mets have been blown out.

With that being the case, the Mets need Perez's spot. He should give it up.

Rob Parker is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com

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