Mozeliak Says Diaz Will Stay at Shortstop, Peralta Feels He Can Play 3rd Base

The Cardinals injury bug is slowly leaving as both Jhonny Peralta and Tommy Pham have commenced playing baseball at some level, but how will this affect the Cards’ current setup?

Jhonny Peralta
Peralta could return next week when the Cardinals travel to Cincinnati.

Club GM John Mozeliak recently told 101ESPN what changes will most likely take place and what Peralta’s return means for Aledmys Diaz, currently tending to shortstop.

Mo also touched Kolten Wong’s slump, Yadier Molina’s fatigue, and Matt Adams and Stephen Piscotty’s lively plate performances.

The latest on Jhonny Peralta:

“He will head to Florida and play with the Jupiter club for the next three to four days…If all goes well, we’ll try and activate him Tuesday in Cincinnati.”

On if Peralta’s return will shake up the infield defense’s look:

“I think right now we’re going to try and keep (Aledmys) Diaz at short and then move some pieces around accordingly…We have had Jhonny taking some balls at third base and he’s done fine there. He’s obviously more comfortable playing short, but feels he can do it.”

“And (Matt Carpenter) said he’s happy to go on the right side of the infield if need be. So I think we had that flexibility and you’re looking at Diaz and clearly, from an offensive standpoint, he’s come back to Earth a little bit, but we still want to keep building him up and you could see him move from time to time too.”

On if Kolten Wong could be sent to Memphis to work out his hitting slump:

“I don’t want to talk about a given person especially when you’re talking about a downward assignment, but overall this game is about performance. Ultimately, we’ve got to try to put together our best 13 from an offensive standpoint to give us a chance to win.”

“As this picture becomes more clear and we have a better understanding about when some of these injured players are coming back and what to expect…Everything has to be on the table when considering how to improve.”

On Matt Adams’ offensive resurgence and relying on defense to help pitching:

“I think from a confidence level he’s really feeling good about himself, and he should. The results are there…Right now, when you have the competition going on for playing time, guys are stepping up and certainly answering the vow.”

“When you look at the overall landscape of our infield, specifically when you talk about first base…We were pretty bullish internally that these guys would come back and give us some upside. Now I think the key thing for us when you look at the overall club is just defense.”

“When you’re trying to find that right combination of going with the hot bat and balancing it with defense, I think is sort of the critical point because you look at our rotation and really, with the exception of somebody like a Carlos Martinez, most of our staff if not high strikeouts.”

“They’re putting the ball in play. So if you’re not playing clean defense it’s certainly putting a lot more stress on our pitching. I think when I look at this club today, from an offensive standpoint we’re definitely pleased…From a starting rotation standpoint, we had higher expectations.”

“But I do feel like this last turn they’ve certainly pitched better and given us a chance to win those games and that’s encouraging. And then overall, our bullpen has been pretty solid.”

On if Tommy Pham is going to enter the picture with Randal Grichuk and Jeremy Hazelbaker struggling:

“He’s certainly a viable option. For me, the key was getting him on that rehab assignment and then once he started to show he was healthy then he just needed to go down and play. When you think about a player with less than two or three years of service time, they need to get their at-bats in.”

“The one thing we didn’t want to have happen is we activate him and he’s playing two or three times a week. So he’s playing down in Memphis. I would say he’s doing just ok. I’m sure there’s a level of disappointment being in Memphis, but the key is he’s playing every day.”

“As some point do I think he could come up and help us? Yes. I will say the one benefit of Hazelbaker versus anybody else is he’s left handed because we’re a very right handed outfield and I do think the speed and defensive component is nice to have in Matheny’s back pocket late in the game.”

On if Alex Reyes is ready for the Major League if the Cardinals needed him:

“I don’t want to have to call on that unless we’re desperate. I think from a talent standpoint he could pitch in the big leagues, but I think he’s got to learn to: A) be more efficient and B) understand how to go deeper in a game, which is a direct correlation of efficiency.”

“Having that one pitch out is important. And getting 11 strikeouts is nice, but that usually means you’re out of the game in the fifth…He has to find a way to balance that out. Secondary pitches are impressive, but fastball command and understanding how to get those “get ahead” strikes and put a hitter away fast is critical.”

“All of those things I think he’s capable of doing. He’s very young…Obviously, we’re very excited about him, but when you look at that finished product and where you want them to be, there’s still some work there. But he’s amazingly talented.”

Yadier Molina 2
Yadier Molina has started 49 of 54 games this season.

On if he could be aggressive at the July trade deadline:

“I don’t really know how to answer that and I don’t actually know what aggressive means. I think that when you look at our club and say, ‘well, what could you do to improve?’ a lot of it has to do with just playing better. Sometimes that happens. It could mean bringing up Reyes at some point to where you have that dynamic arm to the picture.”

“You look at where most of our contracts are and what we have, I just don’t see the trading deadline as something that necessarily going to change the look of our club.”

“Now, that’s still eight weeks away and things change…The easiest way to approach it is as we enter July and see where our club is, we’ll assess it then.”

On if Yadier Molina being fatigued is a concern:

“The way we thought about our offseason strategy was trying to create depth. Not only at catcher, but also in the middle infield and also in the outfield so players like a (Matt) Holliday, like a Carpenter, a Peralta prior to injury, even a Kolten Wong…and Molina, so we wouldn’t see the fatigue factor hit them like it did the second half of last year.”

That what the offseason strategy, and unfortunately (Bryan) Pena got injured the last week of Spring Training…Just dealing with these injuries hasn’t allowed us to execute the plan we had hoped, but…Pena should be back at some point prior to July and when you look at trying to create those days off or allowing a player to regain their strength, I think is critical.”

“I hope we can go back to trying to execute that plan moving forward, but time will tell.”

On if Stephen Piscotty’s play has eased losing Jason Heyward:

“Stephen’s having an incredible year and you’re watching him just mature in front of your eyes…You think about how he was going through the minor leagues…He’s kind of gone from boy to man…Really a five tool player in the sense that he can do a little bit of everything.”

“I think power will continue to develop with him as he gets a little older, but overall just a very complete player and we’re obviously very pleased to have him. When you look at the dynamics of what happened this offseason, certainly ending up in the place that we did is not a place to be.”