His team currently in a 17-inning scoreless drought, Jim Leyland knows he needs to jump start a badly slumping Tigers' offense. The only offensive bench card he has left to play is Jhonny Peralta. Leyland announced Sunday afternoon he would play that card. Peralta will be in the lineup for ALDS Game 3, starting in left field.
"I’m going to play Peralta tomorrow, maybe to try to get an extra bat in the lineup," Leyland said. "We’ve got to try to score some runs, obviously."
But if the Tigers do score a few (or more) runs and take a lead into the late innings, Leyland anticipates he'll replace Peralta with an experienced outfielder later in the game.
"So I'm just hoping that maybe he can knock in a couple runs and we can get a lead and maybe get him out of there later in the game."
In the first two games against the A's, Peralta did not play defensively, making just one plate appearance. He flew out during ninth-inning pinch-hit duty in Game 1. Considering the large outfield expanse in Oakland, it would have been a risky endeavor to play an inexperienced outfielder at the O.co, so Andy Dirks and Don Kelly started in left field for ALDS Games 1 and 2.
Playing in the more friendly confines of Comerica Park, the Tigers have decided it's an acceptable risk to use Peralta as an outfielder if it means they can get his bat back in the lineup. Peralta's only big league experience playing the outfield was in the Tigers' season-ending three-game series in Miami. Even then, Peralta spent all nine innings as the left fielder in just one of those games.
When Peralta's season was derailed in July thanks to his 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, he was second on the team in OPS. Peralta ended 2013 hitting .303/.358/.457 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs. His season ending .815 OPS was behind only Miguel Cabrera (2-for-8 with an RBI in the ALDS) and Prince Fielder (1-for-8).