MARCH 10: Peralta did indeed undergo thumb surgery this morning, Mozeliak confirmed to reporters, including Goold (Twitter link). Mozeliak added that clubs have called to gauge his interest in acquiring a shortstop, which he likened to “ambulance chasing.”
The aforementioned 10- to 12-week absence would point to a possible return in early June, but Mark Saxon of ESPN tweets that Peralta’s return will more likely be around the All-Star break. Peralta will be in a cast for at least the next four weeks, Saxon notes.
MARCH 8: Peralta says that he hasn’t yet decided but could well opt for a surgical route, as Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. That would hopefully avoid lingering issues, but would likely require at least a ten to twelve week absence.
MARCH 7: Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta left camp today with an apparent injury to his left hand, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. General manager John Mozeliak addressed the media minutes ago and told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch, that the team’s early read is a torn ligament in Peralta’s left thumb which could result in an absence of two to three months (links to Twitter). Peralta is traveling back to St. Louis to receive a second opinion on the injury.
Any lengthy absence for Peralta would be a blow to a Cardinals club that some pundits felt was already light in terms of power production. The 33-year-old Peralta (34 in late May) appeared in 155 games for the Redbirds last season, batting .275/.334/.411 with 17 home runs. That line, while solid overall, masks what was a miserable second half of the season for the veteran infielder, though. Peralta was batting a robust .288/.345/.465 as late in the season as Aug. 4, and while the nature of that endpoint is entirely arbitrary in nature, admittedly, he slumped to a meek .246/.312/.291 batting line over his final 199 trips to the plate.
The Cardinals picked up Jedd Gyorko in an offseason swap with the Padres in part to help keep Peralta fresh and avoid a similar second-half decline. Gyorko has limited experience at shortstop but could be in line for significant playing time at the position in the event of a prolonged stint on the disabled list for Peralta. St. Louis also has infielder Greg Garcia as an option at short, and Aledmys Diaz, who signed a four-year deal as a free agent in 2014, could surface in the Majors after rebuilding his stock with a strong rebound campaign in 2015.
The timing of Peralta’s injury is terrible for the Cardinals not only in terms of proximity to the season but also because as recently as eight to nine days ago, a viable replacement sat on the free agent market in the form of Ian Desmond. Desmond, however, inked a one-year deal to play left field with the Rangers, removing him as a possible alternative.