After slow start, Peralta in serious groove
Newcomer has already equaled last year's shortstops with four home runs
MILWAUKEE -- Perhaps sparked by manager Mike Matheny's decision to remove him from the lineup on Saturday, Jhonny Peralta has since begun to prove himself the offensive upgrade the Cardinals sought during their shortstop search last offseason.
Peralta entered Wednesday coming off three consecutive multihit games. He homered in the past two, pushing his team-best total to four through 14 games. It took Peralta 44 at-bats to reach that mark, which equaled the number of homers hit by Cardinals shortstops in 2013.
It took that group 567 at-bats to get there.
"When people start watching Jhonny as he gets going and as we know that he will be for the long haul, they will realize what that does to our lineup," Matheny said. "It gives us another spot that you just can't take a breath with. I think that's pretty nice when you see that we do get what we consider the meat of our order, 3-4-5, and you watch six and seven walk up there with a real good chance of doing something."
The five games in which Peralta has hit safely have all ended as Cardinals wins.
Peralta's batting average is slowly creeping up after his 2-for-32 start. His career track record shows him to be a slow starter, as Peralta has hit 29 points below his career average of .267 in the first month of the season.
"I've felt good from the beginning. It's nothing different," Peralta said, when asked about his recent surge. "The only thing different is better luck. But I haven't changed anything."
Peralta noted there has been the added challenge of facing several unfamiliar pitchers as he begins his first season in the National League. Peralta played 11 years in the American League Central before joining the Cardinals on a four-year, $53 million deal in November.
Peralta also fought the early urge to try and do too much as he proved himself to a new organization and returned after a season in which he was scrutinized for his connection to Biogenesis.
"Sometimes it's a little hard," Peralta said. "You want to impress the fans in St. Louis, and when nothing is going well, people worry. But I know what kind of player I am."