TAMPA — Oswald Peraza played well enough last season to earn a September callup to the Yankees and a start at shortstop in the ALCS.
Now, he’s in a battle to become the full-time answer at short — along with Anthony Volpe and Isiah Kiner-Falefa —although Kiner-Falefa looks to be the odd man out with Opening Day approaching.
Peraza showed off the skill that sets him apart on the roster — his defense — in Sunday’s game against Baltimore, when he made a terrific stop in the third inning on a hard ground ball by Anthony Bemboom and fired home to get the speedy Daz Cameron at the plate.
This spring, Peraza has another advantage that he didn’t a year ago: perfect vision.
The 22-year-old is wearing contact lenses for the first time after the Yankees sent him to an eye doctor after he struggled with an eye chart.
“I took one of those tests off the wall and there was something with my left eye, so they wanted me to have it checked out,’’ Peraza said through an interpreter. “So I went and got contacts.”
The prescription, Peraza said, is for distance, and is especially helpful in the field.
“One thing I can tell the difference is if I’m at shortstop and something happens with PitchCom and the catcher has to put signs down, I can see his fingers much more clearly,’’ Peraza said. “But I can see everything better now.”
And that’s allowed him to play with a greater sense of confidence.
It’s shown up in Peraza’s play on both sides of the ball this spring, as he’s stood out defensively and hit well.
“Overall, I see everything better, so that’s gonna give you more of a sense of confidence,’’ Peraza said.
He went hitless Sunday and is just 6-for-28 this spring, but Peraza has hit better of late, going 3-for-8 with a double and a home run in his three games prior to Sunday.
“I don’t know how much it impacts me on offense, but I played all last year without contacts, so I think they will be good there, too,’’ Peraza said. “I believe I have a little more clarity now and I could tell my eyes were tired sometimes when I was hitting last year.”
He still had a .778 OPS in 99 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre prior to being called up last season and followed that with an .832 OPS in 57 regular season plate appearances with the Yankees down the stretch.
Peraza, signed by the Yankees out of Venezuela in 2016, entered last season with just eight games above Double-A.
In the next week or so, he’ll be in the conversation to be the Opening Day shortstop as the Yankees prepare to make that decision prior to the season opener in The Bronx against the Giants on March 30.
If he wins the job, he’ll have his newfound 20/20 vision, in part, to thank.
“It’s one of those things that if it’s gonna help, why not take advantage of it?” Peraza said. “I’ve enjoyed the results I’ve gotten so far.”
Leave a Reply