Peraza providing solid glove at shortstop

Infielder returns to original position with Cozart sidelined; 'It's like being home'

Peraza providing solid glove at shortstop

ST. LOUIS -- Even though it's been at multiple positions, it's taken getting regular playing time for the Reds' Jose Peraza to show what he can do as a hitter. Taking that a step further, Peraza has been able to showcase what he can do defensively lately by mostly playing shortstop for the injured Zack Cozart.

Peraza started 12 of his last 14 games at shortstop. He had two errors there this season but none since Sept. 12, the first game he took over as Cozart sat with right knee tendinitis.

"I feel good right now because I've been playing more and more, and it's my natural position. It's like being home," Peraza said through interpreter Julio Morillo.

According to Fangraphs' defensive metrics, Peraza has a 1.8 rating over his 205 innings at shortstop, a 0.8 ultimate zone rating and a minus-2 in defensive runs saved. That indicates there is room for improvement.

But the Reds have seen Peraza in control at the position as he has shown solid range and a good arm.

"He's got enough arm strength, and he's accurate and athletic. It's a nice combination for a guy that's playing up the middle," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "There's nothing he's done at shortstop to make me think that he can't play the position on a regular basis."

The Reds will be faced with an offseason decision at shortstop. Cozart will be arbitration-eligible for the third time, a year away from free agency and could be a trade target again -- after he was linked to rumors during the summer.

After the Reds acquired Peraza from the Dodgers in a trade last winter, there was speculation that he might be better at second base.

"He was moved to second base with the Braves in large part because they had Andrelton Simmons, a very special defender," Price said. "Then the Dodgers probably had him bouncing around because they had [Corey] Seager. He was always, for two organizations, their second choice as the everyday shortstop. I thought maybe there was a reason for that.

"What I'm finding out is he's a pretty good shortstop. He's handled the opportunities very, very well, I think. And he's 22 years old, so we're not seeing the best of who he is as a defender by any means."

Peraza, who was given a rest Tuesday vs. the Cardinals, has started 24 games at shortstop, 11 games in center field, eight games in left field and seven games at second base. Over 67 games, he's batting .324/.352/.416.

"Even when I was playing center field, I kept on taking my ground balls in the infield," Peraza said. "I'd take 25-30 ground balls and keep my footwork up and everything. Now that I have the opportunity to play more, it's OK. It wasn't that hard playing again at shortstop."

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.