Rays pitchers stood along the first-base line waiting for a turn to work on their pickoff moves to second base during one of the early days of spring training. Two pitchers separated from the group, Joel Peralta and Alex Colome. Peralta, the veteran, showed Colome, the rookie, how to get the ball out of his glove, turn and throw to second base, with Colome mimicking Peralta's moves. On a chilly morning a few weeks later, the Rays assembled inside Charlotte Sports Park for batting practice. Two pitchers lagged behind, Peralta and Josh Lueke. They moved side-by-side in a slow walk, with the man who has pitched in 407 big-league games doing all the talking. On Friday, Rays manager Joe Maddon stepped out of his office and spotted Peralta moving down the hallway with his arm draped over the shoulder of rookie pitcher Enny Romero. "There it is," Maddon said, using that image as his answer when asked to quantify Peralta's value to the Rays. The 37-year-old Peralta is the Rays' eighth-inning setup man for closer Fernando Rodney. Peralta has appeared in more games during the past two seasons than any other American League relief pitcher. His 37 holds in 2012 were the most in the American League since 1952, according to STATS Inc. On the surface, Peralta's value to the Rays is as the lockdown setup man. But move beneath the surface and it becomes harder to quantify Peralta's value. He watches after all the Latin pitchers. He mentors to all the young relief pitchers, both foreign and domestic. "He really knows the mental side of the game," pitcher Jake McGee said. "He's a great teacher." Peralta, along with catcher Jose Molina, keeps an eye on Cuban-born shortstop Yunel Escobar, who has a reputation of being a handful.
Setup man Peralta a true leader for Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Tribune | Mar 11