ARLINGTON, Texas -- Just as Martin Perez and his agent were completing a long-term deal -- a deal that Perez's agent recommended his client explore following a successful 2013 season -- the 23-year-old pitcher wanted to be sure general manager Jon Daniels knew that Perez wasn't taking his responsibility as a member of the club's core seriously.
"He told us nothing was going to change," Daniels said. "The contract wasn't going to change what he was doing. He was going to stay focused."
Focus was a word Perez used often at his news conference, stressing that the $12.5 million guaranteed and the security of knowing he could be in a Texas uniform as long as through the 2020 season wasn't going to alter his plans to improve each season.
"I have to focus and play baseball and learn something new every day to be a better pitcher and person," Perez said. "That’s what I want. My future is here. Just work hard every day. Tell yourself what you have to do and go do it."
Daniels talked about how much maturity they've seen in Perez, who was hailed as one of the top prospects in the system almost since his arrival. Texas believes in him enough that the organization made a long-term commitment based on 20 starts this season. But they were 20 solid starts and Perez looks like a solid rotation member for years to come.
"We've seen the growth year over year," Daniels said. "I mean that in every way possible. As a person, getting married, on the mound. He’s always had good arm action, good delivery, good stuff, but he’s put it together to become a pitcher."
Perez credits all the coaches and people around him for helping him understand how to achieve his goals. He's also learned that he has to have confidence and trust his stuff on the mound.
"One thing when I was on the mound, I thought I was the best, that I can do whatever I want," Perez said. "When you have conviction, you can do whatever you want."
That last line sounds like something Mike Maddux would preach. It's more proof that Perez is listening.