JUPITER, FL. (KMOV.com) -- Jhonny Peralta returned to Jupiter Monday, his hand in a cast and his arm in a sling.
The 33-year-old said he will wear a hard cast for two weeks, then head back to St. Louis to get his stitches out and have the cast removed.
“After that, they have to put another cast on I think. After that I rehab. It’ll take awhile but I don’t know when specifically I’ll be back. Hopefully soon,” he said. “If you asked me, I can play in two weeks.”
It’s the first major injury of Peralta’s career, and the news that he’d miss significant time floored the three-time All-Star. The offending play was one he’d made dozens of times- tracking a ball in the hole, sliding to glove it, then popping up for a throw across the diamond.
“I said, ‘I can’t believe this happened to me.’ My whole career I’ve slid to get the ball like that and it’s never happened. I’ve slid a lot like that,” he said.
Peralta did add the doctors told him his injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and there was nothing extra needed to repair his thumb during the hour-long surgery.
With one of the best all-around shortstops in the National League out of commission until at least mid-June, the Cardinals have turned inward for solutions. GM John Mozeliak spoke candidly Wednesday (the day of Peralta’s surgery in St. Louis), telling reporters teams were targeting the Cardinals with “panic mode” offers.
“If we have to go outside the organization to improve, we will. Right now, I don’t feel we have to do anything,” he said.
Jedd Gyorko will have every opportunity to win the spot, especially given his hefty price tag and offseason acquisition via trade. His bat has MLB power in it, giving him an edge over both utility man Greg Garcia and minor leaguer Aledmys Diaz.
Gyorko’s experience, or lack thereof, at shortstop is his biggest weakness. Both he and Diaz are getting plenty of innings in the field, but game experience can be sporadic in spring, making performance tough for the team to evaluate.
“They could go two games without getting a rep. So we just see what we see. It comes down to a lot of what we see in the drills, their actions, see what they’re doing away from the ball,” Matheny said. “Do they look like they’re comfortable where the positioning needs to be? How they’re working with the off infielder? There’s a lot of things we can pick up, but you’d like to see them get as many opportunities or chances to make the play. But we can’t control that.”
Matheny said he has no hard deadline in mind for when he wants to make his decision. If no clear frontrunner emerges, the Cardinals may reassess their confidence with in-house options and explore the market again before the season starts.
“A lot of things can happen between now and then. If someone really steps up and says ‘hey this is my job,’ or if it doesn’t look that way and we have to get help. Those are basically our options,” Matheny said, adding if the latter solution isn’t viable, an in-house platoon might be. “If we can’t go get help and it doesn’t look like anybody is saying ‘this is my job,’ then you gotta reevaluate and go day-to-day.”
Despite the uncertainty around not only his spot in the order but his spot in the field, Peralta says he’s committed to following the proper medical timetable on his return. It’s a lesson passed to him by Yadier Molina, who rushed back to action in 2014 and re-injured his throwing hand in the process.
“He said relax. He said try to do it the correct way, because he did it one time and didn’t do the process, and that’s when he got hurt,” Peralta said.
For the first few weeks Peralta has been told not to do anything at all. He can’t run, rehab or exert himself until the stitches come out. The only way he’ll experience live baseball for a few months is through a screen, which is something he’s dreading.
When he served his 50-game suspension in 2013, he spent most of it in the Dominican. He learned then being an observer was painful, and prefers to avoid watching at all.
“I really don’t like to watch on TV because I want to be there. I like to play. For me to watch on TV and not stand on the field is kind of hard,” he said. “I go to see people play and I can do nothing. So it’s a little tough.”