Price confident Peraza will see time, despite infield jam

22-year-old's primary position is shortstop, but he can play 2B, outfield

Price confident Peraza will see time, despite infield jam

FLORENCE, Ky. -- With two weeks remaining until the Reds open Spring Training in Goodyear, Ariz., there remain some unresolved issues. One of the biggest questions that remains since the end of the 2016 season is how manager Bryan Price will find playing time for Jose Peraza.

Reds general manager Dick Williams had hoped to trade either shortstop Zack Cozart or second baseman Brandon Phillips this winter to clear a spot. Now that it looks unlikely, he's not concerned.

"I'll just say you're always going to have strength in some area," Williams said on Sunday before Reds Caravan wrapped up. "Middle infield is not the worst area to have some depth in. We'll get to Spring Training. We'll get these guys some reps. We'll make sure we get everybody healthy and producing and worry about divvying the at-bats."

One of the stickier issues could be Phillips, who is earning $14 million this season in the final year of his contract with full no-trade protection. Phillips, who has turned down three trades the past two offseasons, doesn't like missing playing time.

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"I don't know. Hard to predict," Williams said when asked how the club would handle the situation with Phillips. "I do expect Bryan and I to be open with him going forward, as we've been open in the past."

Peraza, who turns 23 on April 30, batted .324 with a .352 on-base percentage over 72 games, including 56 starts. His primary position is shortstop, but he can play second base, left field and center field.

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"If there was an injury there, I would want [Peraza] to be able to go in there and immediately play and play regularly at that position," Price said. "Going into the season with Brandon, Cozart, [Adam] Duvall, [Billy] Hamilton -- those are our guys going into the season who will take the lion's share of the playing time at those positions.

"That being said, Peraza is going to play. How I get him in there has yet to be seen, but he'll get in there. It may just have to be rotation through different spots until an everyday spot comes to light. We certainly feel that's going to be in the middle of the infield, shortstop or second base."

Dilson Herrera, who was acquired Aug. 1 from the Mets in the Jay Bruce trade, isn't as versatile as Peraza.

"[Herrera]'s value for our club is not to be sitting on the bench five days a week," Price said. "He's either playing regularly in the big leagues or he's playing in Triple-A."

Price wasn't prepared to say how he might split up the playing time so Peraza can play regularly if there are no injuries.

"I can't right now," Price said. "I think we have to get through Spring Training and see where we are. We've dealt with the injury bug. We certainly don't know what our Opening Day roster is going to look like. Instead of answering that question at the end of January, I'd rather wait until the first of April."

More items from Sunday:

• The addition of veteran starting pitcher Scott Feldman to the rotation competition will make the battle for the fifth spot dense. Several young pitchers are vying for the job, like Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, Tim Adleman and Sal Romano. Williams expects there to be enough innings to go around in camp, even if it means adding "B" games.

"I would love to have a problem with guys stepping up, and we've got too many," Williams said. "Last year, we thought we had numbers, and you find out quickly what injuries can do to you. Knock on wood, we're due for a healthier spring."

• Catcher Devin Mesoraco, who is rehabilitating from right hip and left shoulder surgeries, appears to be progressing. Also rehabbing from a knee surgery, Williams frequently notices Mesoraco.

"I go down to rehab my knee every morning and see him in the clubhouse working with our [physical therapists]," Williams said. "He's been in town a lot. I know he's doing catching drills. I know he's doing hitting drills and advancing through the progression. I know that's going well. Exactly what that means for timing, I can't say."

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.