KISSIMMEE, Fla. — When the Yankees called up Oswald Peraza from Triple-A last Sept. 1, they did not entirely know how much of a role he would have the rest of the way.
Seven weeks later, he was their starting shortstop for Game 2 of the ALCS.
While the Yankees ended up needing the 22-year-old perhaps more than they expected, the experience proved to be equally valuable for Peraza, especially this spring as he tries to win the starting shortstop job.
“I hope [it was] very [beneficial],” manager Aaron Bone said Tuesday before the Yankees fell to the Rays 12-0 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex. “We certainly wanted him up around the situation, not knowing how much he would play.
“The fact that when he did play, he had success, hopefully is something that serves him well going into this year. I think he’s had a really good winter.
“He came in at a place physically where he should be, which is encouraging. But hopefully all those experiences now serve you well as you continue to move forward in your career and your development.”
In 18 regular-season games, Peraza hit .306 with a .832 OPS while getting starts at both shortstop and second base.
He was left off the ALDS roster before being added for the ALCS, starting one game for the struggling Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
But more important than getting his first taste of major league action, Peraza tried to be a sponge as he got a crash course in how his new teammates went about their work before games.
“Just impressive how the guys prepare on a daily basis,” Peraza said through an interpreter after going 1-for-3 with a single and handling his two defensive chances cleanly at shortstop.
“Looking at the veteran players, the little things they do on a daily basis, their preparation, just learning from those guys.
“Even the days I wasn’t playing, just paying close attention to everything that was going on before the game, during the game and after the game.”
Peraza said he mainly learned from his fellow infielders, but also Aaron Judge.
“I had the opportunity to sit and chat with him, ask him specific questions about his first years in the big leagues and the preparation and routine he had then to where he is now,” said Peraza, who could see time at second base this spring.
The Venezuela native is hoping that experience can help him now as he tries to overtake Kiner-Falefa and fend off fellow prospect Anthony Volpe for the starting shortstop job.
The competition is still in its early stages, with each of the three playing two games apiece through Tuesday (Volpe moved to second base for one of them), but it remains the most intriguing battle in camp.
“Once you go to the big leagues and experience that level of baseball, you definitely want to be playing at that level,” Peraza said. “And that’s my goal. My goal is to try to win this competition and establish myself as a shortstop in the big leagues.”
Peraza could stand to benefit from the new rules coming to MLB.
His range at shortstop takes on added value with the restriction on shifts while he also stole 33 bases last season at Triple-A, where the bigger bases and limited pickoffs were already in play.
Still, Boone is not playing favorites.
While everyone outside of the Yankees’ walls has been trying to handicap the competition for months, the manager insisted that he did not enter camp with one player in mind that he wanted to see win the job.
“I want what’s best for us,” Boone said. “So for me to try to predetermine that based on potentially my own bias — again, we get tied up in Opening Day all the time and it’s an ongoing thing all year.
“We want to be, ultimately, the best team we can be in 2023. I don’t want to go in with a preconceived, ‘This is what I want to happen.’ ”
Leave a Reply