ST. LOUIS -- This time, Chris Perez got called up to the big leagues for real.
Five minutes before boarding a plane for Tuscon, Ariz., with Triple-A Memphis, Perez was told to hang back because he was shipping out to St. Louis instead.
"Everything's gone so fast and I've got all kinds of things in my head spinning," Perez said.
After an impressive opening outing with the Cardinals during Friday night's 11-5 loss to the Rays, Perez will serve as a fresh weapon in manager Tony La Russa's overworked bullpen.
"They just said, 'Get ready when we call your name and go as long as we let you go,'" Perez said. "They haven't talked to me about roles or anything like that. That's fine with me, as long as I can get out there and help the team win."
Against Tampa Bay, Perez faced four batters and nearly worked a 1-2-3 inning. Carl Crawford lined out to open the frame and B.J. Upton reached base due to an Albert Pujols error.
But Perez settled back into a groove, getting Carlos Pena to ground out and then fanning Evan Longoria to end the inning.
La Russa said after the game that Perez was composed and threw good stuff.
"He wasn't throwing the ball back to the screen," La Russa said. "I thought he made a lot of good pitches. He was very impressive."
Perez is known for throwing gas. In his first outing, his velocity topped out in the high 90s, which is what he says he usually averages.
Though a closer in the Minors, and the likely successor to Jason Isringhausen, Perez is expected to throw mostly out of middle relief while with the club. However, he said there is not much of a difference between the two roles, so he expects to fit in nicely.
"Coming out of the bullpen every time, your job is to try not to give up any runs," Perez said. "It doesn't matter what the situation is. Obviously, at the end of the game, there's more pressure. I just kept the same mentality that I've always had."
Eventually, Perez would like to throw in the closer's spot. For now, though, being available to pitch for a big league club is fine for him.
"It's a little early for that," Perez said when asked if the closer's role is the ultimate for him. "But if I just do my best, then everything will sort itself out. I'm not worried about that."
STL: RHP Kyle Lohse (3-2, 4.91 ERA)
Lohse is 5-2 with a 2.53 ERA in nine career appearances against the Rays.
TB: RHP Edwin Jackson (2-3, 3.47 ERA)
Jackson is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in one career appearance against the Cardinals.