Odalis Perez: On holding out, getting fired and his future

In what might be a bigger exclusive than the raccoon chase at Rays camp, free-agent left-hander Odalis Perez told Big League Stew on Tuesday that "nine or 10 teams" are interested in him and he expects to sign "soon" with another major league squad.

Perez, who is on the Dominican Republic's team in the World Baseball Classic, also regretted agreeing to the $850,000, non-guaranteed contract that preceded his holdout and release from the Nationals on Feb. 23.

"Yeah, I did. It felt rushed," said Perez, who is represented by Martin Arburua and signed the deal on Feb. 5. "I couldn't sleep for two or three nights after I signed it. But I thought about it and I'm worth more. I mean, I don't care if it's $850,000 — just make it guaranteed deal."

Jim Bowden, who recently resigned his post as Nats' GM over other matters, told reporters Perez failed to return phone calls made by manager Manny Acta and Bowden, himself, during the holdout.

Perez disputed that, claiming Bowden and Acta never tried calling him.

"I'm the player," Perez said. "They should have called me."

Good thing there's no such communication breakdown with the Stew.

In the interview, Perez was polite and professional — which belies his signing of a bad deal. He's definitely proud and stubborn, admirable traits but also ones that can get you into trouble. He also seemed happy to be playing somewhere.

The 31-year-old Perez went 7-12 with a 4.34 ERA in Washington a season ago. He was an All-Star with the Dodgers in 2002, but since has turned into a journeyman left-hander, going 73-82 with a 4.46 ERA in 10 seasons.

The WBC is an outlet for Perez to show he's still valuable, even if his reputation is damaged. This story (translated) on ESPN Deportes says the Yankees and White Sox were interested in Perez before he signed with the Nats.

Perez worked out with the Dominican team before its exhibition victory against the Marlins on Tuesday, but did not appear in the game. WBC teams are touring the state to prepare for the tournament, which starts on Thursday.

Perez also took time to sign autographs — please note Thing Addams with the pen on the right — after Alex Rodriguez walked by a throng of fans packed by the gate.

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