Now that veteran infielder Jhonny Peralta has been activated from the 10-day disabled list by the Cardinals, how much will he play?
Peralta, who replaced 21-year-old outfielder Magneuris Sierra, who was sent to Class AA Springfield, was on the DL for more than a month with an upper respiratory infection and complications from some medicine.
Soon to be 35, Peralta who hit .120 in 25 early-season at-bats here, was four for 11 in a recent rehabilitation assignment at Class AAA Memphis, where he played third base two games and shortstop once. But general manager John Mozeliak said Peralta would find it difficult getting many at-bats with hot-hitting Jedd Gyorko and Aledmys Diaz in place at third base and shortstop.
“Getting playing time is going to be somewhat of a challenge,” Mozeliak said, “but he does give (Mike Matheny) a little more flexibility. But in terms of everyday plate appearances, I think it’s going to be hard to get them.”
To the probability he will not be much more than a bench player here, Peralta said, “It’s kind of hard, because in my whole career I’ve never been on the bench. But the situation now, I understand what is going on. Everybody is doing good and the team — we’re in second place. I understand the situation but it’s kind of hard for me to be on the bench and not play every day, because I know what kind of player I can be.”
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Peralta said he would talk to other bench players to find how best to stay ready. “I need to learn to be ready for whatever time or situation it is in the game,” he said.
Peralta, who had to cut short an earlier rehab stint in Palm Beach when he didn’t feel strong, said, “Right now I feel really good. I did pretty well in spring training to try to open the season here. It’s kind of hard what happened. Physically, I didn’t feel right. At the same time, whatever happened, it happened for a reason. “
It wasn’t just the infection but the medicine involved that laid Peralta low. “The medicine was not really working for me,” he said. “ My liver was really hurt. That’s something that affected my body and when I played in the field, I didn’t feel right.
“I stopped the medicine and I started to feel better and better. I’m ready to go now. The way I played in Memphis, that’s the way I felt in spring training.”
Sierra, the prized prospect promoted from Class A Palm Beach when outfielders Dexter Fowler and Stephen Piscotty were injured earlier this month, batted 367 while he was here, hitting safely in all seven games he played.
His 11 hits all were singles, but the Cardinals lost only one of the seven games he played as he provided a spark at bat, on the bases and in the field. Peralta, who will be 35 next week on May 28, has three singles and no runs batted in for 25 at-bats this season.
To send out someone as impressive as Sierra, Mozeliak said, “is always harder when you’re having some team success and you look at how we were scoring runs. He was very much a part of that.
“But big picture on this one, you think about his own development. And I think (Peralta) can contribute. You think about spring training and how we was playing, we certainly thought he was going to be a part of our club.”
Matheny said he didn’t have a blueprint for Peralta’s playing time, “but he wants to play, needs to play in order for him to feel like he can stay sharp.”
Yet, Matheny said, “He sees what’s going on. He understands the position that we’re in.”
Sierra will play all the outfield positions at Springfield, although his best probably is center. “He brought a lot of energy and when you look at his game, you can see why we’re excited about it,” Mozeliak said. “But now he can go back down and harness some of the things he needs to work on.”
Matheny said one of the aspects of Sierra’s game that could improve is how to steal and run the bases.
“There’s a whole other (part) of his game when he learns how to use his speed on the bases,” Matheny said.
With development, Sierra almost certainly will be back when rosters can be expanded in September, if not before then.
Matheny is confident Sierra will respond, despite being demoted (he actually is up one level from Palm Beach, where he started).
“It can always go in a couple of directions,” Matheny. “He can go down and Cadillac a little. Or he could kick it in gear, having enough of a taste not to be satisfied until he’s here on a consistent basis. And I believe it will be the latter.
“He’s just a special kid. We needed that shot in the arm. We needed the production and he came through in both ways.”
Baseball America speculates that the Cardinals and Chicago White Sox are the leaders to sign 19-year-old Cuban sensation Luis Robert, who has been working out in the Dominican Republic. Robert can sign as a free agent as early as Saturday. ... Matheny, about being named to Major League Baseball’s competition committee, said, “There’s been a lot of phone calls already. But it’s an honor to get on the conference calls and to realize the intellectual horsepower that’s on that call.”