"This is not about me," Perez said Thursday, a day after manager Terry Collins informed the left-hander of the decision. "I want to help the team, and this is the best opportunity for me to help the team, by moving to the bullpen."
Perez was 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA, five walks and a .345 opponents batting average in seven innings over two spring training starts and one relief appearance. In his last outing, he allowed his first four batters to reach.
"He was clear with me when I came the first day that he would give me the opportunity," Perez said of Collins, the Mets new manager. "He said that if I didn't do great I'd be moved to the bullpen. I thanked him for the opportunity to be a starter."
Owed $12 million in the final season of a $36 million, three-year deal, Perez said he didn't request another start or two to give the Mets a chance to reassess.
"He's the manager. That's the guy who has to make the decision. Sometimes we get mad ... but I understand this is all about the team," Perez said. "The other guys are pitching better than me. That's why I'm in the bullpen."