Peralta may prove to be Jhonny Comeback

Jhonny Peralta will be eligible to return to the Detroit Tigers late in the season, after a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test.

Jhonny Peralta will be eligible to return to the Detroit Tigers late in the season, after a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test.

Last season, after the Giants’ All-Star Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games for high levels of testosterone, he never played for that team again. He watched as his former teammates won the division title, advanced through the NL playoffs, and eventually defeated the Tigers in the World Series. He was a pariah.

This season, Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta has suffered the  same punishment – 50 games handed down in August. But unlike Cabrera, it appears it’s possible that the Tiger All-Star shortstop may not be Jhonny Pariah, he might become Jhonny Comeback. While it seemed highly unlikely that the suspended Peralta would play again for Detroit in 2013 or any time in the future (he’ll be a free agent this offseason), now Jhonny has been asked to work out with the club, apparently at a new position. Will we see Jhonny in a Detroit uniform this October?

If you believe what’s being said by the Tigers, it’s increasingly possible. Not only is GM Dave Dombrowski taking Peralta back to take part in exercises with the team (as is allowed under the labor contract), but Jhonny’s teammates are welcoming him back.

“All is forgiven,” Torii Hunter told reporters. Even Max Scherzer, who has lambasted those who have been convicted of using PEDs, had good things to say about Peralta. “It’s good to see his face in the clubhouse,” Max said.

Dombrowski has made it clear that Peralta won’t play shortstop for this team again, at least as a starter. Rookie Jose Iglesias is the starter, Dombrowski insists. Suddenly, Dombrowski is in love with the leather. But, in his first workout back with the Tigers, Peralta was sent out to left field, a spot where the Tigers have received spotty performance this year. Never mind that Peralta admitted that he “has never played outfield at any level.” It’s an option the team is exploring. This while Nick Castellanos, the heralded blue chip prospect who was converted into an outfielder in the minor leagues, is also with the club.

Should the Tigers welcome Jhonny back? I could make the case that the franchise has an opportunity to take a form stand against PED use and refuse to allow Peralta to come back. I could argue that having a “cheater” on the roster while making a run for their first World Series title in nearly three decades might be a distraction, might lessen the accomplishment in some people’s eyes. I could point out that the franchise of Al Kaline and Alan Trammell (two of the classiest players in the history of the game) should be classier than that.

But I won’t make those arguments, though I wouldn’t condemn those who might. No, I choose to accept the fact that this team is willing to forgive Peralta. Who am I to say they shouldn’t?

If I confine myself to the diamond, I have to point out that Iglesias is a major upgrade over Peralta with the glove. Any Tiger fan who doesn’t recognize that is not watching closely. In about five weeks with the team, Iglesias has already made half a dozen plays that I’ve never seen any Detroit infielder make. Ever. He’s crazy good. He doesn’t have the power that Peralta has (or had with PEDs), but runs saved are just as valuable as runs produced.

Maybe Peralta can play left field adequately (let’s face it, neither Andy Dirks or Matt Tuiasosopo is that great with the glove out there), I don’t know. His arm would be an upgrade, for sure. But I don’t have to do stretch my mind that much to imagine a misplayed line drive that could cost the Tigers a postseason game. Remember Coco Crisp?

I’ve carped here before about the thin Detorit bench, especially the lack of a good, major league caliber pinch-hitter. Peralta, a veteran who has some pop in his bat (even when he isn’t juiced up), would give Jum Leyland a nice option for the postseason, especially in the Series, where pitchers would bat in the National League ballpark.

Regardless of our opinions on Peralta’s transgression, we must admit that we may not have seen the last of Jhonny in a Tiger uniform. The Tigers have to ask themselves whether they want to take a moral stand or if they are willing to do anything it takes to win the elusive World Series championship. Either way, it seems most in the organization are willing to treat Peralta as a friend rather than as a pariah.

4 replies on “Peralta may prove to be Jhonny Comeback

  • Jeffrey Judd

    Matt Tuiasosopo has not been given a real chance, he has played part part time. When has he played every game for 2 weeks, never that I can think of. Multiply his offensive numbers by 3 or 4 he would have nice totals. Just sayin’.

  • Dan Holmes

    Yes, but of course that presumes he would perform the same if he was an everyday player, or facing right-handed pitching regularly.

  • Adam Eaton

    It’s sad to see both Dirks and Tuiasosopo struggling. I think Andy’s got potential, he just can’t seem to deliver on a game to game basis. I believe Jhonny’s tenure in Detroit might be over, given that Castellanos is coming up quick and Jhonny isn’t getting any younger. Stick him in left for October 2013? Perhaps. Stick him in left for April 2014? I just don’t see it.

  • Dan Holmes


    Good points. 20 years ago, when teams carried a real bench, Tuiasosopo and Dirks would have been bench players who could pinch-hit for you, but most teams have sparse benches now.

    I don’t think there’s any way the Tigers will re-sign Peralta, so if he’s going to wear the Old English D again, it will be in the postseason and that’s it.


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