Displaced shortstop could be part of playoff roster as left-field candidate
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jhonny Peralta will be back in a Tigers uniform this weekend when his 50-game suspension ends for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. There's a very real possibility he'll be on Detroit's postseason roster as well.
Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski made the first part official on Wednesday, saying that their displaced shortstop turned left-field candidate will be activated to the 40-man roster on Thursday, the day his suspension ends.
"He's worked hard, eager to get back. The team has been receptive to him coming back, and we think it's best for the ballclub to give him the opportunity," Dombrowski said.
Peralta will return for Friday's series opener at Miami as an option in left field.
He could be an insurance option at shortstop if Jose Iglesias isn't ready to return from his bruised left hand, but Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland both think Iglesias will be back at short on Friday. As long as Iglesias is able to play, he'll be the shortstop, Dombrowski emphasized earlier this month.
Peralta's place on a postseason roster, Dombrowski cautioned, has yet to be decided. When asked how much Peralta has to show in left field over three regular-season games, Dombrowski offered a little bit of clarity on how the Tigers see Peralta's situation as a potential playoff left fielder.
"I think we just have to have a comfort zone that he can perform out there," Dombrowski said. "And even if he can't perform out there as much as you'd like, does he still make you better going into the postseason with him on your roster, depending on how everything shapes up? And those are not discussions for today. Those are discussions for another day, because we haven't even reached that point as of yet."
Peralta has spent the past week or so working out in left field with the Tigers' instructional league team in Florida. He has had very little game action due to rainy weather all week in Lakeland, Fla., but reports on his work have been generally positive.
"I'm being told that I really shouldn't be concerned about that," Dombrowski said. "But I also know that doing that in Lakeland in the instructional league compared to doing it in a big league game or postseason game could be different. But there's quite a bit of confidence from people I talk to that he's moving around well out there."
From a practical standpoint, Peralta's potential role is becoming clearer. The moral and ethical aspects of his return are matters that have been weighed and decided.
Whenever Peralta plays, it'll be his first game action since Aug. 4, the day before Major League Baseball announced suspensions for a dozen players linked to the Biogenesis firm in Florida. It was an issue that followed him for most of the summer, but he kept his comments very limited on the matter.
When Peralta accepted his suspension, he issued an apology, saying he made a mistake before the 2012 season. Peralta reiterated regret over his mistake when he rejoined the team a couple weeks ago to begin workouts. It was a reversal of a statement issued on his behalf by his attorney in February denying taking performance enhancing drugs.
Peralta's reception from teammates has been positive, with players including Torii Hunter citing his admission to a mistake and his acceptance of the penalty. Dombrowski said much the same Wednesday.
"Those are not my morality issues," Dombrowski said. "I mean, we discussed that before. It's a situation where he has served his penalty as determined by the Players Association and the Commissioner's Office.
"He's a good person, he made a mistake, he served his penalty, and it's taken me some time to really know where all this would go over a time period. That's why sometimes you need to digest things and sit back, not make immediate decisions. We look at it if he can make our club better, it'll be a spot where we're open to that. He's been with us a long time. He made a one-time mistake and he served his penalty."
Asked how much the positive reception from players factored in, Dombrowski said, "I think the biggest thing would be if I sensed it would have a big negative feeling in our clubhouse. Then you might have to look at it in other ways. That never came across to me. So it was important, but I can't sense how everybody feels per se."
Peralta will have to be added to the 40-man roster. To make room, the Tigers will place infielder Danny Worth on the 60-day disabled list. Worth's season ended earlier this month with a dislocated left shoulder.