Jhonny Peralta’s playing time has diminished, and there’s no change in sight.
The St. Louis Cardinals third baseman hasn’t started since Saturday against the New York Yankees, replaced twice by Greg Garcia and twice by Jedd Gyorko.
Peralta, 34, has just three hits in his first 25 at-bats, a .120 average. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny also has been dissatisfied with Peralta’s range on defense.
“Unfortunately, when you see Greg Garcia doing what he’s doing, when you see Gyorko taking the at-bats he’s taking — he’s had some significant at-bats — Jhonny’s just had a slow start,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We’re trying to get him feeling better. It’s hard to do without the opportunities, but right now, who’s giving us our best chance?”
The Cardinals never saw Peralta’s struggles coming. He batted .261 and often hit cleanup during spring training, and his defense at third base wasn’t a question mark.
“He will get opportunities,” Matheny said. “It’s about him making the most of them when he gets them. But right now, it’s a combination of the at-bats, but also how he’s moving. We’ve got to get him moving in a good way.
“(But) it’s been fun watching Greg over there. He’s making great plays and you can see the amount of ground he’s covering — just the electricity that comes with that style of play. Jhonny has that capacity. We’ve just got to get him in a better place. ... We’re going to need him, but right now, we need some other guys.”
He will get opportunities. It’s about him making the most of them when he gets them. But right now, it’s a combination of the at-bats, but also how he’s moving. We’ve got to get him moving in a good way.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on third baseman Jhonny Peralta
Could the Cardinals sever ties with Peralta, who is making $10 million in the final season of a four-year contract, and shift Matt Carpenter back to third base? That would open up first base for Jose Martinez, who also has been hot, or Matt Adams.
“We don’t rule that out,” Matheny said. “In a perfect world, we’ve got all kinds of guys swinging the bat well and you figure out how you’re going to get (Carpenter) in a consistent spot. I just don’t see that, right now, being off the table. You could see him potentially getting more (time) at third base.”
Matheny said he spoke with Carpenter several times during the offseason, and Carpenter wasn’t opposed to being a player that would move all over the field. That, however, didn’t fit into the Cardinals’ mission of becoming a more proficient defense team.
“He said he liked the idea of bouncing around,” Matheny said, adding that Carpenter even is open to playing the outfield. “All I would have to do is mention it, and he would go running (out there) with a big glove. That’s just who he is.”
Cardinals 2, Pirates 1
Dexter Fowler clubbed two home runs and right-hander Michael Wacha was sensational as St. Louis completed a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh and extended its winning streak against the Pirates to seven.
By the numbers
The multi-homer game for Fowler was the fourth of his career and his first since June 2, 2013, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. ... It was the first time in franchise history that Pittsburgh lost three consecutive 2-1 games. ... Wacha (2-1) yielded one run, a homer by Josh Bell, on four hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out three. ... Trevor Rosenthal posted his first save since last June 21 against the Chicago Cubs. ... Gerrit Cole (1-2) absorbed the loss for Pittsburgh. He allowed both of Fowler’s home runs.
At Milwaukee, Carlos Martinez (0-2, 3.57 ERA) vs. Zach Davies (0-2, 8.79 ERA), 7:10 p.m. Thursday