PHOENIX -- Jhonny Peralta, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb on March 10, began light defensive drills this week as part of the next step in regaining strength in his hand.
The Cardinals, who initially estimated that Peralta would need a recovery time of 10-12 weeks, will get a better feel for a potential return date when the veteran shortstop is re-evaluated by the team's medical staff in two weeks.
While the Cardinals have clearly missed Peralta's defensive presence, the club continues to receive exceptional offensive production from his replacement, Aledmys Diaz. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Diaz is the first player in modern history to have a batting average of .500 or higher after 50 or more career at-bats.
With hits in his first two at-bats on Monday, Diaz had 26 hits in his first 52 at-bats. Twelve of those have been for extra bases.
Peralta's return won't necessarily signal Diaz's departure from the Cardinals' lineup, either. Circumstances could change between now and then, but the versatility of the two players would offer the Cardinals a way to keep both involved.
Though Peralta has played exclusively as a shortstop since signing with the Cardinals before the 2014 season, he has made 203 career starts at third and played a bit in the outfield. Diaz has the flexibility to shift to second without any added concerns about his defensive competency.