LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — On the first pitch Jhonny Peralta saw he homered against his former team Monday. He went deep again in his second at-bat to go 2-2 in his only plate appearances in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 8-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
Peralta played for the Tigers for three and a half seasons before signing with St. Louis as a free agent this offseason. He said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny asked a couple days earlier if he wanted to make the spring training trip to Lakeland to face Detroit. Peralta accepted that offer – then made his visit worthwhile with two solo homers off left-hander Drew Smyly.
Both of Peralta’s home runs came off Detroit left-hander Drew Smyly.
“First pitch – fastball,” Peralta said. “And then Smyly said something to me. I don’t know he said, but he was kidding around.”
Smyly clarified moments later.
“I said, `I don’t think I’ve seen you swing at the first pitch like that in the two years I’ve known you,'” he said.
Joe Kelly, Cardinals starting pitcher, gave up RBI singles to Martinez and Jackson in the first. He allowed two runs, two hits and two walks in 1 2-3 innings, striking out two.
Peralta hit .303 with 11 homers for the Tigers last year – despite missing significant time thanks to a 50-game suspension that was part of baseball’s drug investigation.
Even before his two-homer outing, Matheny spoke highly of Peralta’s dependability.
“I think we know what we’re going to have as far as his performance on the field,” Matheny said. “You guys have probably spent enough time around him to know he’s not making a lot of requests. He just does whatever needs to be done. … When I suggested to him early on that I was going to try and structure his games to where he could come here and play – I think it’s good for the fans to be able to see one of their former players. It’s always nice for him to be able to catch up with some of his teammates.”