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Peralta's struggles a question of timing

Third baseman having trouble with offspeed pitches
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

WASHINGTON -- The grasp Jhonny Peralta had on the starting third-base job coming out of Spring Training may be weakening amid a sluggish start.

Peralta has offered little validation that he deserves to be considered a priority player in the lineup. In addition to a handful of defensive miscues, Peralta is hitting .150 with no walks or extra-base hits, and he's having a particularly tough time timing up offspeed pitches.

Full Game Coverage

WASHINGTON -- The grasp Jhonny Peralta had on the starting third-base job coming out of Spring Training may be weakening amid a sluggish start.

Peralta has offered little validation that he deserves to be considered a priority player in the lineup. In addition to a handful of defensive miscues, Peralta is hitting .150 with no walks or extra-base hits, and he's having a particularly tough time timing up offspeed pitches.

Full Game Coverage

According to Statcast™, Peralta has whiffed at 48 percent of the offspeed pitches he's swung at through six games. He's been especially susceptible to pitches down and away, as well as changeups.

"They're making good pitches to me right now, good breaking balls," Peralta said. "But I'm working every day to see how I can hit the breaking ball better. It's something I'm trying to work on more now."

Peralta had time to do so on Wednesday as he was out of the Cardinals' lineup. Manager Mike Matheny wouldn't commit to whether Peralta may see a decrease in playing time, but the club does have other players who could slide in at third.

Jedd Gyorko and Greg Garcia would both be candidates to take away some of Peralta's at-bats. And if the Cards are truly interested in getting Matt Adams into the lineup regularly, they could entertain the possibility of shifting Matt Carpenter back to third to create opportunities for Adams at first.

"It's a shame [because] spring he was in such a good rhythm, and we were just hoping to see that carry over," Matheny said. "And it will come back. He's got the strength. That's what was kind of missing ever since the injury. The strength is there. Now, it's just timing."

Peralta has been encouraged by the renewed strength in his hand following his recovery from a 2016 injury, but that hasn't yet translated into power. Entering Wednesday, Peralta, according to Statcast™, had an average exit velocity this season of 76.8 mph.

"We're just going to stay the course [and], in Jhonny's case, know that what we saw in Spring Training on a pretty consistent basis is the guy that he should be," Matheny said. "We just have to get him back there."

Worth noting

• Willie McGee, a special assistant to general manager John Mozeliak, is scheduled to be in St. Louis next week to help with instruction. He'll spend time specifically working with Adams, who is getting periodic starts in left field.

• Catcher Eric Fryer and Garcia drew their first starts of the season on Wednesday. The Cardinals liked the idea of sitting Yadier Molina in the series finale so he'd get two straight days off with an off-day on Thursday. Garcia started at short, in place of Aledmys Diaz. All 13 position players have now started at least once in the team's first nine games.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

St. Louis Cardinals, Jhonny Peralta