Peraza's dynamic performance caps big May

Young 2nd baseman goes 2-for-4 with RBI, 2 stolen bases

Peraza's dynamic performance caps big May

TORONTO -- After a sluggish start, speedy young Reds second baseman Jose Peraza is showing signs of turning the corner.

The 23-year-old turned heads when he found a regular role with the Reds last August, ultimately finishing the season with a .324 average and a .352 on-base percentage. In his first 22 games over April this season, however, Peraza managed only three extra-base hits while posting a .516 OPS.

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Peraza was a different player in May, posting a .733 OPS even before a dynamic performance in Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays, during which Peraza singled, stole his 13th and 14th bases of the season and drove in a run with a ground-rule double.

"I think he's getting acclimated to being an everyday guy," Reds manager Bryan Price said after the game. "The league tends to try to disseminate the ways to get you out, and they attacked him a certain way and he struggled. Now he's back, really, I think into the flow of the game, utilizing his speed.

"He's one of the tougher guys in the league to strike out, and I think that makes a difference as a speed guy."

Peraza's quick feet were certainly a factor at Rogers Centre on Wednesday. In addition to the two stolen bases, he sped to first for a bunt single off Jays reliever Jason Grilli. On the RBI double he hit off a Mike Bolsinger cutter, Peraza was halfway to third by the time the ball bounced over the wall. Had it stayed in the park, he might have had a chance at home.

"I was focused [on] a triple," Peraza said with a smile through translator Julio Morillo.

Peraza has now reached base in 15 of his past 16 games, and he said he owes his steady progress to hard work and a newfound approach at the plate.

"I think I've been a little bit more aggressive," Peraza said. "I've been working a lot in the cages, making my adjustments, and now I think I feel really good at the plate. Pitch selection has been way better for me in May. That's been the key for me so far."

For his manager, Wednesday's performance was evidence of Peraza's versatility.

"Today he was able to bunt for a hit, he can shoot the ball the other way, occasionally pull the ball with a little bit of power," Price said.

"I think he's going to be an exceptional young player. He's already real solid."

Nick Patch is a contributor to based in Toronto who covered the Reds on Wednesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.