Peralta to begin working out with Tigers in Chicago
No decision has been made about shortstop rejoining active roster
CHICAGO -- Jhonny Peralta is rejoining the Tigers on Wednesday to begin working out with the club, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski announced Tuesday.
The move is the first step toward the Tigers deciding what to do with their former shortstop once he's eligible to return from his 50-game suspension on Sept. 26. No final decision has been made, Dombrowski cautioned, but the workouts will be part of the process in deciding whether he can fit in, on and off the field.
"There has been no decision made regarding Peralta's return to the active roster," the Tigers said in a statement. "It is an organizational decision to allow Jhonny to work out with the club in order to see if it will be in the best interest of the team to have him return at the end of his suspension."
Or as Dombrowski said later, "We'll make a baseball decision at some point as we get closer if we want to activate him for the regular season, and then if we're fortunate enough to make the postseason, if he's on that roster or not. That's a decision to be made in the future."
Peralta will join the Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday afternoon prior to their series finale against the White Sox. He will take early workouts on the field, then address the team at his request. Peralta will also address the media in what will be his first interview session since he received his 50-game suspension on Aug. 5 for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. He issued a statement at the time, but has not been available to take questions. By rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Peralta is allowed to work out with the club on the field until the gates open at the ballpark. After that, he can remain in the clubhouse.
"He can do everything with the team before the gates are open," Dombrowski said Tuesday. "They'll work with him. [Hitting coach] Lloyd McClendon has already talked to him. He's got his hitting set up for tomorrow, what time he wants him to be here. He can't be in uniform on the field when the gates are open. He can be in the clubhouse when the gates are open."
The agreed-upon suspension between Major League Baseball and the Players Association allows for that. Dombrowski indicated it also puts the team under some level of expectation to give him a chance to make his case to return.
By electing not to appeal the suspension, Peralta gave himself a chance to finish the discipline this season, before he hits the free-agent market. He also allowed himself to be eligible for postseason play.
"Really, you are under some obligation to try to give him the opportunity to come back, because it's a negotiated settlement -- a 50-day suspension -- that the Commissioner's Office and the Players Association agreed upon," Dombrowski said. "Are you told that you have to? No, but you're also told that there's some obligation. I think really where we fall at this time is that, too."
That said, Dombrowski said it was his decision to have Peralta do his workouts with the team. He consulted with team owner Mike Ilitch. Peralta has been working out on his own in his native Dominican Republic, but Dombrowski said he didn't know what level of activity he's been doing.
Peralta is eligible to join the team for its final series of the regular season, a three-game set against the Marlins in Miami. Whether the Tigers welcome him back is a decision the club has to make.
"You pay the punishment, you pay the price, which he has, then you sit back," Dombrowski said. "We can see how he is. How does he react? Can he swing the bat? How is he moving around? Do we think he gives us a chance to be better at some point?
"We're trying to win a championship. That factors into there, too. All those are considerations."
If Peralta rejoins the roster, he will not regain his old role.
"He is not coming back as our everyday shortstop," Dombrowski said. "We have our everyday shortstop at this point."
Jose Iglesias, whom the Tigers acquired days before Peralta's suspension, has that job. With that in mind, Dombrowski said Peralta will work out at multiple infield positions.
"He'll take some ground balls at short, some at third," Dombrowski said. "I don't know if they'll hit him any at second or not. He'll take some fly balls, a bunch of different things."
At some point in the next week or two, Dombrowski said Peralta will report to instructional league at the Tigers' Spring Training facility in Lakeland, Fla. With no Minor League affiliates playing, it's the closest the Tigers could come to sending out Peralta on a rehab assignment to get live game action.
Workouts there begin Sept. 19, with games beginning Sept. 23. The Tigers can set up simulated games ahead of that to get him at-bats.
Aside from this first step, Dombrowski suggested, nothing has been decided. That doesn't mean nothing has been discussed.
"Really, there's no other decisions to be made," he said. "We've discussed this internally. This is where we stand."