PHOENIX -- Last year, Wily Peralta was the Brewers' Opening Day starter. As pitchers and catchers reported Tuesday for the start of Spring Training, Peralta was preparing to fight for a job.
"There's always competition, every year," Peralta said. "You see six or seven guys for [five] spots. It's never easy. You have to come ready."
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Peralta came ready to shed the memory of a dismal start to 2016, when an Opening Day loss to the Giants was a harbinger. Peralta owned a 6.68 ERA when he was demoted to the Minors on June 12, and didn't fare much better over 10 starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs.
It was out of necessity that the Brewers recalled Peralta to the Majors in August, and he salvaged his season by pitching to a 2.92 ERA over his final 10 starts. His aim in '17 is to keep that momentum going.
"That's why I decided to [pitch] a couple innings in winter ball," Peralta said. "I tried to get ready because the last two years, I've been struggling in the first half. This year I want to make sure that I come ready right away. Get ready for Spring Training, instead of using Spring Training to get ready for the season."
That was especially important this year because Peralta will depart Brewers camp during the first week of March for Miami, where he will pitch for the loaded Dominican Republic squad in the first round of the World Baseball Classic.
Peralta is in the designated pitcher pool, meaning he will be active for the first round of the tournament but not for subsequent rounds. The Dominican Republic is with the United States, Canada and Colombia in Pool C and plays first-round games at Marlins Park from March 9-13.
The abbreviated appearance probably works in Peralta's favor, since he is among a pool of Brewers pitchers vying for spots in a competitive starting rotation. Junior Guerra, Zach Davies and Jimmy Nelson appear to have spots assured, leaving Peralta, Chase Anderson, Matt Garza, Tommy Milone and others to vie for jobs.
"Since he's likely, really, only to be gone for that first round, that's a week. That's one Spring Training start," Brewers general manager David Stearns said. "The [tournament] is important to him, and we wanted to make sure we gave him the opportunity to pitch if he wanted to."
Peralta is eager for the experience. The Dominican Republic won the tournament when it was last staged in '13.
"In '13, I was like, 'Man, I wish I was part of that team,'" Peralta said. "This year, being there, that's going to be exciting.
"You're facing an All-Star lineup right away. There's competition right away. There, you have to make sure you're ready."
He avoided arbitration last month by signing for $4.275 million, but he arrived at Maryvale Baseball Park having been made no promises.
"They never give you, 'You're in the rotation,' and I never feel like that, either," Peralta said. "I always come like I need to do my job to earn the spot. You need to come to Spring Training ready."