Peralta strives to stick around after breakthrough season

Outfielder took remarkable route to Majors, stayed active with winter ball in Venezuela

Peralta strives to stick around after breakthrough season

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- David Peralta's journey -- from pitching prospect to out of baseball to trying again as an outfielder in independent ball before finally making to the big leagues with the D-backs last year -- has been well documented.

It deserves mentioning again, because it helps explain why after a successful rookie season in 2014, Peralta was not about to rest on his laurels, not about to take anything for granted.

"It's a dream for me," said Peralta, who is in Major League camp for the first time. "A dream come true and I'm still living my dream. I still can't believe that I'm here, but I want to keep working hard every day so that I can stay in the big leagues for a long time."

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Peralta, 27, had a slash line of .286/.320/.450 in 348 plate appearances for Arizona and was a bright spot for a team that had the worst record in baseball.

When the season ended, Peralta went home to Venezuela -- not to rest, but to play more baseball.

In 210 at-bats for Margarita, Peralta's slash line was .319/.376/.433.

"I know I had a good season, but I need to get better and I wanted to work to get better," Peralta said of his decision to play winter ball. "I like to get better and learn something every day. So I went there to learn something, to get better and to get more at-bats. This year, my goal is to be an everyday player, and I feel like I'm ready to go now."

A left-handed hitter, Peralta is battling Ender Inciarte for playing time in left field this spring. With an overabundance of right-handed hitters, having Peralta in the middle of the lineup to split things up would be valuable.

"He is a big part of our plans," D-backs general manager Dave Stewart said. "Those are the kind of guys that you have to like, guys that want to keep getting better. He didn't rest on the fact that he had a good season at the big league level, and says he wants to go back and keep working on his skills and get better."

Peralta struggled against left-handed pitching in the big leagues, hitting southpaws at just a .197 clip. In Venezuela he asked for as much playing time as possible against lefties and wound up with a .259 mark.

Former manager Kirk Gibson used to marvel at how Peralta was always sweating from a workout or hitting session every time he saw him in the clubhouse.

"I am impressed by his work ethic, his attitude, how good of a teammate he is, his physical skills," first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. "He's always wanting to get better, he's never satisfied. That's what it takes to be successful in this game, because the other teams are always getting better, there's always more scouting reports and defensive shifts. So if you're not trying to get better, you're probably getting worse."

For Peralta, allowing that to happen is simply unacceptable.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.