Find­ing some pop

Likely started 2B signed 1-year deal in off­sea­son

Sentinel & Enterprise - - SPORTS - By Steve Hewitt

New Red Sox in­fielder Jose Per­aza mak­ing small ad­just­ments in first year with the team

One of Chaim Bloom’s first moves as the Red Sox’ chief base­ball of­fi­cer was the un­der-the-radar sign­ing of se­cond base­man Jose Per­aza at the close of De­cem­ber’s Win­ter Meet­ings, and while it may not have gen­er­ated big head­lines it may prove to be a steal.

Per­aza likely projects as the Red Sox’ Open­ing Day starter at se­cond, and he’s qui­etly had an im­pres­sive sum­mer camp. Af­ter four sea­sons with the Reds, Per­aza was non-ten­dered this win­ter and quickly scooped up by the Red Sox, who are hop­ing to un­lock the up­side of a 25-year-old who broke out in 2018 with a .288 av­er­age, 14 homers, 58 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 157 games as Cincin­nati’s start­ing short­stop.

The Red Sox are start­ing to see signs. Man­ager Ron Roenicke last week sin­gled out Per­aza as some­one who has looked dif­fer­ent since the team re­turned for camp, de­scrib­ing his swings as “un­be­liev­able” and ex­plain­ing that his load looks “com­pletely dif­fer­ent” af­ter three months apart. Per­aza said Tues­day that he’s made some small changes that are mak­ing a big dif­fer­ence.

“Of­fen­sively, I feel like I’m a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­son,” Per­aza said through a trans­la­tor. “I put in so much work dur­ing the off­sea­son and then dur­ing camp and even dur­ing this pan­demic while we were wait­ing just mak­ing, like I said, the mi­nor tweaks. That’s prob­a­bly the only thing is just, of­fen­sively I’m just a dif­fer­ent per­son than I was back in Cincin­nati. …

“I made a cou­ple of mi­nor ad­just­ments with my swing, es­pe­cially with my hands, just try­ing to keep it a lit­tle bit more back, like a cou­ple of cen­time­ters. Not too much. But I did make a cou­ple of changes that I’ll keep a lit­tle bit se­cret here.”

One thing that isn’t a se­cret: the Red Sox love Per­aza’s ver­sa­til­ity de­fen­sively, a big rea­son for Bloom’s in­ter­est in him. Though Xan­der Bo­gaerts is the man at short­stop, Per­aza can fill in there when needed, and he also has some ex­pe­ri­ence at third. If Per­aza can con­tinue to find that con­fi­dence of­fen­sively, the Red Sox could have them­selves a bar­gain on their hands, even if it’s just for one short 60-game sea­son.

“I’m ex­tremely ex­cited to be here,” Per­aza said. “I think it’s a good ball­park for me to hit in as well. That’s some­thing that I feel like has given me a lot of con­fi­dence be­ing able to go out there and have the type of progress that I’ve been mak­ing dur­ing this camp so far. I’m ac­tu­ally re­ally ex­cited to be play­ing here.”

More changes to Fen­way

In their con­tin­ued ef­forts to so­cially dis­tance dur­ing games, Roenicke said Tues­day that the Red Sox plan to build ex­tra du­gouts in the stands be­tween home plate and the reg­u­lar du­gouts. The man­ager said he be­lieves only nine play­ers and three coaches are al­lowed in the dugout at once, in­creas­ing the need to space peo­ple out when the reg­u­lar sea­son be­gins next Fri­day at Fen­way Park.

“Whether it will be tents or whether it will be a struc­ture, I know they need to get go­ing on that,” Roenicke said.

Roenicke also said there are plans to build a struc­ture be­hind the bullpens that both the Red Sox and vis­it­ing team can use to spread out their re­lief pitch­ers.

The Red Sox have al­ready made sev­eral changes to Fen­way for sum­mer camp, which in­clude bat­ting cages in the con­course and player locker rooms lo­cated in the Fen­way’s lux­ury suites. Roenicke said he doesn’t think play­ers will be al­lowed in their suites dur­ing the sea­son.

Player pool ad­di­tions

The Red Sox are ex­pected to an­nounce some prospect ad­di­tions to their 60player pool by the end of the week, who will re­port to Paw­tucket’s McCoy Sta­dium, which will serve as the team’s taxi squad site this sea­son.

MassLive.com was the first to re­port that top in­field prospect Jeter Downs, ac­quired in the Mookie Betts trade, will be part of the ad­di­tions. Pitch­ers Jay Groome, Tan­ner Houck, Bryan Mata and out­fielder Jar­ren Du­ran are also re­port­edly be­ing added.

NANCY LANE / BOSTON HER­ALD

New Red Sox in­fielder Jose Per­aza waits in the on deck cir­cle dur­ing an in­trasquad game Tues­day at Fen­way Park.

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