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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Peralta on possible suspension: 'It’s gonna be disappointing but there’s nothing that I can do'

DETROIT — Somebody finally noticed there’s been smoke for a while.

Maybe they’re ready to acknowledge there’s been a fire.

While all parties involved have tried to take the head-in-sand route and ignore all the smoke surrounding Jhonny Peralta’s reported involvement with performance enhancing drugs from the Biogenesis clinic, all signs now point to there being something to the reports.

“When there’s enough smoke, you get to be concerned,” said Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski, when announcing a three-way deadline deal to bring shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit as an insurance policy should Peralta be suspended by Major League Baseball. “I’m not at great liberty to talk about that. That’s a Commissioner’s office decision. And I don’t really know what’s going to happen, 100 percent.

“But I read the same names that you read. And I got concerned.”

Just as concerning is the fact that Peralta denials, since calling any accusers “liars” when his attorney issued a statement back in February, have been less than vehement.

With the suspensions expected to drop later this week — maybe Thursday, maybe Friday — Peralta didn’t sound like a guy who was still proclaiming his innocence.

“I don’t hear nothing yet. Try to play this game. I’m still here so I don’t worry about nothing. Try to play this game today,” he said, admitting the whole controversy is hard to keep out of mind. “It’s hard a little bit but I need to forget about it and try to move on, try to do what I need to do.”

Is it wrong to be in the Biogenesis records, as he’s reported to have been?

“Yes, it’s wrong. But whatever happens, I need to fight and try to move on,” said Peralta, who’s spoken with his agent about it, but said he has not talked to anyone to give any testimony. “I don’t feel nervous. But yeah, I worry a little bit because I want to play everyday here and I love to be here in Detroit.”

Should Peralta be disciplined by MLB, would he appeal? His answer to that question, should he face it, might determine whether or not he plays for the Tigers again this season — or maybe ever again.

“I don’t have comment yet about that,” he said. “I try to see what’s better for everybody and see what can happen.”

An All-Star for a second time in his Tigers career, Peralta came into Wednesday leading all American League shortstops in batting average (.308), on-base percentage (.361), slugging percentage (.460), and OPS (.821). He’s second in RBI and home runs, and leading all MLB shortstops in doubles.

“Peralta’s a very good shortstop and a hell of a player,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I think you’re going to miss Jhonny Peralta’s bat if something happens. I don’t know if anything’s gonna happen and I’m not gonna comment on it until something does happen. Jhonny Peralta, in my opinion, and I can’t believe that nobody ever mentions this in the Detroit media, in my opinion, I don’t know how this is going to play out, but up until this point, I think Jhonny Peralta is one of the best trades that Dave Dombrowski ever made and it never gets any credit. Nobody ever talks about it. I never read anything about it. This is a great trade. This was one of Dave Dombrowski’s finest, in my opinion. He’s been on two All-Star teams.

“We’ll just have to see what happens and I have no absolutely no more information on that subject than what I read in the paper.”

Everybody’s in that same boat, that uncertainty the large part of the reason Dombrowski felt a need to address the shortstop situation now, rather than in the offseason, as he’d planned.

Iglesias profiles as more of a defensive shortstop than Peralta, but his range could help out the pitching staff immensely.

“I agree with that. But I also know that the guy that’s been playing shortstop, his glove is as good as it gets. His arm, his accuracy is as good as it gets,” Leyland said. “Like old Sparky (Anderson) said, he’d head up the runway when they hit it to (Alan) Trammell with two outs in the ninth. I head up the runway when they hit it to Peralta with two outs in the ninth.”

The pitchers know how valuable his steady play has been, too.

“He’s very important to this team. He’s obviously had an All-Star caliber season and he’s gone out there and played just about every game at shortstop. You lose a guy like that, that’s tough,” Justin Verlander said. “But I can’t comment on how it would go to lose him because I don’t know what the possibilities are that we do or don’t.”

Whether or not anything happens, all the suspicion has put a damper on what’s been one of the better years of Peralta’s career, statistically.

“I feel really good,” he said. “I feel I’m doing a really good job and I think this is the best year that I have right now for me and I try to keep it going and see what happens.”

What if it doesn’t keep going?

“It’s gonna be disappointing but there’s nothing that I can do, I try to do the best I can do and try to help everybody here,” he said. “I don’t try to put a lot of attention on it. I try to play baseball every day and try to come in ready to play every day and don’t try to worry about what everybody say.”


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