Peraza seeking more playing time in 2nd half

Peraza seeking more playing time in 2nd half

CINCINNATI -- Since he is one of their top young players, the Reds would like infielder Jose Peraza to get enough playing time in the big leagues so he can keep advancing his development. It hasn't been easy, however. Peraza entered Friday with 21 games played and 60 plate appearances since his second call-up on June 14. He did enter Friday's 5-4 victory over the Brewers in the seventh inning after Brandon Phillips left with a right calf injury.

Reds manager Bryan Price realizes it's not an optimal situation for Peraza, who has started at five positions -- shortstop, second base, left field, center field and designated hitter, but not at all since July 6. Price hopes to find more time for Peraza during the second half of the season.

"That's going to be the big challenge," Price said before Friday's game. "My intentions are not to rotate him through center field, left field, shortstop, second base and constantly be giving those guys a day off once a week.

"He gives us a complete utility guy, a guy who can get a bunt down, can play good defense and give us a good pinch-hit at-bat. He can hit and run and do any number of things to help our club. However, we're not going to want him to be a utility player. Certainly, the time will come later in the month when we have to define either how I'm able to get him in the lineup with more frequency or what's in his best interests moving forward."

Peraza, 22, came to the Reds from the Dodgers in the three-team offseason trade that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox and is considered a key part of Cincinnati's rebuilding project.

But barring a trade, the Reds have Zack Cozart at shortstop, Phillips at second base, Adam Duvall in left field and Billy Hamilton in center. Price maintained since Peraza returned last month that he would like to see him start three to four games per week, optimally. In the meantime, his versatility allows him to be used later in games for double switches.

"I have no intentions -- without injury -- of having him usurp one of those four guys for regular playing time," Price said.

Phillips is listed as day-to-day, so that might give Peraza a chance to get some starts in the short term.

For his part, Peraza is trying to make good use of his time. He works out each day defensively at all four positions and tries to soak up all the big league experience he can.

"I'm trying to learn every day from everything that happens in here [the clubhouse], and the older guys who teach me," Peraza said via translator Julio Morillo. "On the bench, I watch the game all the time and learn as much as I can learn."

Peraza lockers next to third baseman and fellow Venezuelan Eugenio Suarez, who is barely older, at 24, but eager to help.

"He's got more experience than I have in the big leagues," Peraza said of Suarez. "I talk to him a lot. He tells me I have to relax, let things happen, don't think too much."

Peraza is still getting used to playing sparingly, something he didn't experience much of during his rise through the Minor Leagues.

"It's kind of hard because it's the first time I've been sitting on the bench for a long time," he said. "But I feel happy to be here, and I know the opportunity is going to come. When it does come, I will be ready to take it."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.