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Peralta one of many 9th-inning options for KC

Yost will divide bullpen duties among multiple relievers
@FlannyMLB
February 23, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. – After the Royals traded closer Kelvin Herrera to the Nationals last June, right-hander Wily Peralta essentially took over that role for the rest of the season. Although there were some shaky moments, Peralta wound up a perfect 14-for-14 in save opportunities. That was encouraging enough for the

SURPRISE, Ariz. – After the Royals traded closer Kelvin Herrera to the Nationals last June, right-hander Wily Peralta essentially took over that role for the rest of the season.

Although there were some shaky moments, Peralta wound up a perfect 14-for-14 in save opportunities. That was encouraging enough for the Royals to re-sign Peralta to another one-year deal in late October.

“It made me feel really good,” Peralta said. “I felt really happy the way the organization treated me last year.

“They didn’t tell me [they wanted me back] after the season was over, but I was pretty confident I would be back. I just went home and then got the call.”

Yet Peralta isn’t necessarily coming back as a traditional closer.

“We didn’t tell him he was coming back as a closer,” manager Ned Yost said. “We told him he would be a bullpen piece. We haven’t told anyone about roles.

“I thought he did OK. He was perfect [in save opportunities]. He picked us up when we needed it. You take it as another option we have when you go into the planning stages as a team.”

Yost said early in camp that he will use additional bullpen pieces such as left-hander Jake Diekman and right-handers Drew Storen and Brad Boxberger, along with Peralta and lefty Tim Hill, with this mindset: Use them in high-leverage situations whenever that may occur, whether it’s the seventh inning or the ninth inning.

The Royals won’t have a set closer.

And that’s OK with Peralta.

“I liked that [closer’s] role,” Peralta said. “It’s a little different. You get a lot of adrenaline going. I thought when given the opportunity I did my job.

“But I wasn’t thinking about being the closer [this season]. I was just going to be happy with the opportunity to pitch. I just want to be part of the team and contribute.”

Peralta, though, does believe he has successfully made the transition from a career-long starter to a reliever. And he likes it.

“Of course, I do,” he said. “But you still have to go out there and prove it. It’s a little bit different being a reliever than a starter. You have to attack the strike zone.

“There’s no time to mess around. You have to get three outs as quickly as you can so maybe you can pitch the next day. You also know it’s one inning, and you just let it go. You go in with two pitches and just let it go.”

Peralta said going into Spring Training knowing he will be a bullpen arm has been an advantage in his offseason preparation. That may even be beneficial for his spring numbers, which he admits haven been traditionally poor. Last year, he had a 13.50 ERA in Cactus League games.

Peralta vows with a smile he won’t struggle this spring.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think this spring is going to be different.”

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.