Dombrowski discusses looming Peralta decision
Dave Dombrowski’s announcement that Jhonny Peralta is rejoining the team to work out and take batting practice before the gates open went over relatively easy. He budgeted 15 minutes to talk with the team about the decision, but needed only a few. He spent more time talking with reporters about the limited reaction from the players.
“Quiet, not much said,” Dombrowski said of the reaction. “They paid attention. They were intent. And I think they’re interested, but really it’s just pretty much they listened.”
The decision looming over all of this, the one whether to put Peralta back on the active roster for the end of the regular season and the postseason, is going to take a lot longer to decide. It’s going to draw much more scrutiny all around, let alone within the clubhouse.
As Dombrowski talked about this first step, he was unusually open talking about the decision process that will go into the last step. He could’ve said that was a discussion for another time. He did not.
“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.
“You pay the punishment, you pay the price, which he has, then you sit back. 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.”
At one point early on, Dombrowski used the term “baseball decision” to describe the choice whether to activate him. Those two words, as much as anything, might set up the process.
He’s a now-deposed shortstop with a run production kind of bat, and he’ll have a very limited amount of activity for the Tigers to evaluate. It not only will be limited time, but limited activity, basically just pregame workout and instructional league games.
The good news about those games is that they can set him up for as many at-bats as he wants in a day. The bad news is the level of competition.
The other point he made is who factors into the decision.
“It’s my decision, really,” he said. “Not that I may not ask a player or two different opinions and discuss it with staff, but it really ends up being my decision, mine and Mr. Ilitch’s.
“It’s one of those things I see both angles. I see the angle where it’s really talking about the same stuff we did before. People feel like you’ve been betrayed, you’ve been hurt, you’ve been all those things. And then you’ve also got the other end of it where you’ve paid your price, you’ve paid your dues. I’m really not the judge and jury beyond the 50-game suspension. That’s really been determined by the players association and the commissioner’s office. And I think more and more players fall upon that. Now that’s not to say that they may not want more severe punishment in the future, but for now that’s really what’s been decided, and it’s up to us to analyze.
“We could end up playing against somebody in the postseason that has somebody that’s been suspended and ends up playing against us. I think you have to weigh what you think is best for your club at the time.”
It’s no longer a question whether Peralta is good enough to get his old job back at shortstop. As Dombrowski made clear, the Tigers have their everyday shortstop now in Jose Iglesias. So while the Tigers try to get Peralta back into baseball shape and judge his readiness, they also have to judge his utility.
His Major League experience is at shortstop at third. Dombrowski laid open the possibility that he could take ground balls at second in batting practice, but wasn’t sure about that. He mentioned fly balls, but didn’t mention outfield along with that.
“I guess I could envision anything,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t really have a specific plan, really, beyond what I’ve described here.”