The Houston Astros optioned right-hander Ken Giles to Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday, the day after he suffered a ninth-inning meltdown and appeared to mutter an expletive in the direction of manager A.J. Hinch as he was removed from the game.
Left-hander Cionel Perez was recalled from Double-A Corpus Christi to take Giles' spot on the roster.
Giles came on in a 4-0 game against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday and promptly allowed three consecutive singles to begin his outing. Hinch had seen enough, removing the 27-year-old and replacing him with Hector Rondon, who has handled the majority of the save opportunities since Giles was demoted from the closer role.
As Giles walked off the mound, cameras appeared to catch him uttering an expletive in the direction of Hinch.
Rondon went on to blow the save, and the Astros wound up winning 6-5 in the 11th inning.
Despite the incident, Hinch told reporters the move was made with performance in mind.
"We need to get his pitching right," Hinch said. "He's had an up-and-down season. He's had signs that things are good. He's had some bad games. He's had some meltdowns, but we need to get him right. He's not right and we've got to get him right mentally and physically to make sure he's a good contributor to a pen.
"I think it's important for him to get himself right to where he's directing all of his attention toward the hitter and all of his attention toward his job. He pitches with a lot of emotion. When things are going well, we love it. When things aren't going well, we have our concerns just because of the volatility with the end-of-the-game-type stuff. When he's good, he's really good."
Last season, Giles posted a 1-3 record but had 34 saves and a 2.30 ERA in helping the Astros to their first-ever world championship. He struggled in the World Series, however, allowing five runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings between two appearances.
Those issues have continued into this season, as Giles has a 4.99 ERA and just 12 saves. He has given up 17 earned runs and 36 hits in 30 2/3 innings.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Giles is expected to pitch at Fresno while Houston enjoys next week's All-Star break.
"Ken Giles was optioned so that he has opportunity to go work on some things that he needs to work on," Luhnow said. "He has not had the success up here this year that he's had in the past or that he's capable of having. We need to keep the Astros first and foremost as our priority, winning games here. We're engaged in a tight division race with the Mariners. The A's are a good team. The Angels are a dangerous team. He needs to pitch. Right now, he won't get as much as an opportunity (here).
"He needs innings. And it's best that he gets those innings in Triple-A rather than here at this point."
Perez, 22, received his second call-up to Houston, though he didn't get into a game in his first major league stint, June 29-30. In 16 games (11 starts) for Corpus Christi this year, he had a 6-1 record with one save and a 1.98 ERA. He struck out 83 and walked 22 in 68 1/3 innings.
--Field Level Media