It didn’t take long for the Times to catch up with hometown hero Fernando Perez, a season-long highlight (see video) for the Durham Bulls who is now on the Tampa Bay post-season roster.

Writer Alan Schwarz describes the New Jersey native and Columbia University grad as a Hermann Hesse fan who has “wit as quick as his lightning legs.”

Perez has been an unusual fit on every teamRays manager Joe Maddon claims he wanted him to raise the team’s average SAT score.

From … Columbia up through the minors and now the majors, Perez dark skinned, bilingual and as friendly as he is bright has mixed comfortably with all ingredients of baseball’s cultural bouillabaisse.

‘There are more guys from the Dominican Republic and from Venezuela alone than there are from the whole Northeast of the United States,” said Perez, who devours books by Annie Dillard and Howard Zinn. ‘Each of the players represents a demographic of their country or region. Every team I’ve been on, I’ve been the Yankee, the city slicker, sharp-talking guy that’s into progressive things. It’s my stereotype on every team.”

He added with a smile: ‘When I get to second base, most guys are shocked when I speak English. They’re assuming that I’m just another Fernando Perez from the Dominican Republic.”

Perez goes on to talk about what his other, non-baseball ambition: Becoming a writer.

Perez’s future with the Rays is uncertain. Their outfield is stocked, and earning a starting role next year and beyond will be difficult. He is committed to pursuing this career, but just in case, he keeps his writing skills sharp by working on short prose and some personal essays on his laptop. He does not care about being published, and if he ever is he will do so under a pseudonym.

ED. NOTE: Hey, Fernando! If they send you back to Durham next year, there’s a sports blog down here ready to give you a pseudonym!

The entire story is here.

The Rays play Game 3 of their best-of-five division series match-up against the White Sox at 4:07 p.m. this afternoon. The Rays lead the series 2-0.