Peralta ready to start fresh at third base
Indians slugger thinks full season at position will be beneficial
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jhonny Peralta grew up in the Dominican Republic wanting to be a Major League shortstop.But not initially. Peralta's first sporting dream was actually to be a basketball star. The sport was his first love. "I was a little bit like LeBron James," Peralta joked. "A little bit." Peralta said he was 14 or 15 years old when he realized his chances of becoming a professional baseball player were much better than his chances of ascending to NBA greatness. He's barely touched a basketball since. So when the hoop dreams diminished, Peralta had his mind set on shortstop. And that made what transpired last season all the more frustrating for him. Opening Day 2009 was Peralta's fifth straight as the Tribe's starting shortstop. In the winter before the '09 season, the club had Peralta play third base in the Dominican, and there was plenty of speculation among fans and the media that the Indians would eventually transition Peralta to third and Asdrubal Cabrera from second to short. Peralta, though, didn't pay much attention to that speculation. And it's his contention that, in a face-to-face meeting before the season, manager Eric Wedge and general manager Mark Shapiro did nothing but ensure him he was their shortstop going forward. "Then one day in the middle of the season," he said, "they say I'm playing third base." That day came in mid-May, and Peralta was never the Tribe's regular at short again. His inconsistency at the plate and struggles in the field are well-documented. What's not discernible is whether they are attributable to the distraction of the midseason position switch or whether Peralta just simply had a bad year. There is probably at least a sliver of truth to both possibilities. Peralta was struggling at the plate long before the switch was made, and he never really got on track after it was made. Prone to slow starts as it is, Peralta had a particularly brutal April, batting just .211 with five doubles and no homers in 19 games. He was hitting .198 as late May 4.
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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.