Last week the Tigers announced that Jhonny Peralta would start working out with the team again in preparation for potentially coming back from his 50-game suspension for the playoffs, but if he does rejoin the team apparently it won’t be at shortstop.
Peralta has been the Tigers’ starting shortstop for the past three seasons, starting zero games at another position, but rookie Jose Iglesias has been a huge defensive upgrade since being acquired from the Red Sox to fill in for Peralta. And so since Iglesias obviously isn’t going anywhere, Lynn Henning of the Detroit News reports that the Tigers will have Peralta play left field in instructional league games to prepare for his return
Peralta has never played the outfield before in 11 seasons as a big leaguer, but third base (Miguel Cabrera) and first base (Prince Fielder) aren’t options and Detroit could certainly use his right-handed bat in the lineup. Before the suspension Peralta hit .305 with 11 homers and an .822 OPS in 104 games, whereas the Tigers’ left fielders (mostly Andy Dirks, with some Nick Castellanos mixed in lately) have combined to hit .263 with a .718 OPS this season.
It’s also worth noting that Peralta is a 31-year-old impending free agent, so just in terms of market value he has quite a bit riding on whether teams still view him as a shortstop or not.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.