Whiles his teammates watched the replay intently every time it was shown on the clubhouse television, Oliver Perez went about his business. There was no need for Perez to watch the highlights of the fight between Mexico and Canada during Saturday night’s World Baseball Classic – he was in the middle of it.
The Mariners reliever found himself in the scrum of pushing and shoving and eventually punching players.
“Everyone just reacted,” he said. “Sometimes people push too hard and you can get mad. Normally when you go out there, you’re trying to separate your teammates so nobody can get hurt. When fights go wild, anybody can get hurt and that can hurt your career. That’s a tough time. But when you’re in there, it’s just reaction. You don’t want anybody to punch or push you. We’re humans. And in those moments, you just react.
“That’s how the game is. Nobody wanted to get hurt, but it’s a man’s sport and sometimes one gets mad and everything happens.”
Perez took offense to getting put in a headlock by a Canadian player and had to be restrained, but was not ejected. Seven other players were ejected.
“After the game, you still are thinking, ‘What’s going on? What happened?’ And when you start to see the tapes, you see it different when you are outside the lines. But when you are there, you don’t have words to say. You just react.”
Perez never did see teammate Michael Saunders during the scrum.
But the fight won’t be his lasting memory. Getting to pitch in Mexico’s 5-1 win over the US on Friday night will be something he won’t forget.
“Normally when you’re trying to be one of the best teams, USA is one of the best teams and inside it’s very emotional,” he said. “This is the second time I think we’ve beat the USA and they’ve got a pretty good lineup and a good chance to win. Canada has a really good team. This tournament is getting better every year. You see Italy, they don’t have a lot of big names, but they just want to win. They’re doing everything right and I think that’s why they’re going to the second round.”