Cards mulling options for Peralta's return

Cards mulling options for Peralta's return

ST. LOUIS -- Though rainy weather kept Jhonny Peralta from taking on-field batting practice on Tuesday, the veteran shortstop is progressing well enough that he could be ready to begin a Minor League rehab assignment as early as this weekend, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak announced on Tuesday.

Peralta, who underwent left thumb surgery on March 10, has been hitting in the batting cages for the last week. Once he can show the Cardinals that he has sufficient strength to handle batting practice, Peralta will head out so he can sharpen his timing against live pitching.

Once that rehab assignment begins, it can stretch for a maximum of 20 days. Mozeliak indicated that the Cardinals may utilize most of that time since Peralta took only four at-bats this spring before getting injured. The strong play from Aledmys Diaz at short also gives the Cardinals the luxury of being patient.

Mozeliak said that there are no current plans to have Peralta play other positions besides short during his rehab assignment, but added that he would be comfortable tapping into Peralta's versatility, if needed, once he returns. Peralta has made 203 career starts at third base and another three in left field.

The likelier scenario, as Mozeliak hinted at on Tuesday, though, is that Diaz will be the one on the move around the field. The Cardinals have already begun discussing ways to get Diaz exposure at second and/or third before Peralta returns, so that he can be prepared to fill in elsewhere. Moving third baseman Matt Carpenter to the other side of the infield is under consideration, as well.

"These are different pieces to the Rubik's Cube that we have to solve and determine what makes the most sense," Mozeliak said. "Right now, at the rate we're committing errors, it's not healthy. And look, it's not just at short. When you look at our club, it's happening in different places. And if Peralta can help steady that, I think it makes sense [to keep him at short]. The one great quality of Jhonny is usually if it's hit to him, he catches it."

The Cardinals entered Tuesday leading the Majors with 34 errors. Diaz has committed nine of those at short.

"I think he's one of those young men who can make that spectacular play and then sometimes struggles with the routine," Mozeliak said. "I do recall when we were going through that tryout [in March 2014], a lot of his throws or perhaps his arm accuracy was something that was questioned. But you kind of assumed over time that would improve. I still think he's a talented guy. I think it's a little early to rush to adjustment."

Diaz played some second last year while in the Arizona Fall League, and he spent time at both second and third while playing professionally in Cuba.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.