Finding some pop
Likely started 2B signed 1-year deal in offseason
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.
New Red Sox infielder Jose Peraza waits in the on deck circle during an intrasquad game Tuesday at Fenway Park.