Peraza repaying Reds' confidence

Peraza repaying Reds' confidence

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- After trading Brandon Phillips to the Braves on Feb. 12, the Reds installed Jose Peraza as their regular second baseman and made it his job to lose. Peraza has certainly backed up their confidence in the early portion of Spring Training.

Peraza, who turns 23 on April 30, is batting .568 and has at least one hit in his last five games, and at least two in each of his last four.

"I feel really good," Peraza said on Saturday via translator Julio Morillo. "I worked really hard in the offseason. I worked on the mental part, my mechanics and everything. That's a big part of why I am doing a good job in Spring Training so far."

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During Friday's 8-4 win over the Cubs, Chicago pitcher Aaron Brooks was wild, and threw a pitch behind Peraza in the top of the third inning.

How Peraza responded was to manager Bryan Price's liking.

"A ball being thrown behind you, now you're going, 'OK, what type of command does this guy have when you can miss by that much?'" Price said. "And he hung in there and took a really good swing where he fouled the ball off, and then he smokes a base hit to left field. There's a toughness there, a toughness that I really admire. There is no give to this kid in his game. I like that. He's having a great spring."

Friday marked the first time that Peraza and shortstop Zack Cozart were paired in a game in the middle infield. They were tested quickly when Albert Almora Jr. grounded to Cozart to start a double play as Jason Heyward went barreling into second base.

Peraza will be starter at second

Peraza was able to quickly turn the double play with his throw to first.

"The second hitter of the game hits that ball, and Cozart makes a great play," Price said. "But as soon as he leaves his feet, you know there is going to be interaction at second base between the second baseman and the baserunner. And he's got to take that throw with his back to the runner and still be able to make a quick turn and fire. That was really impressive. I'm looking forward to seeing those two play a full season together and see what we're able to accomplish. It should be a lot of fun."

Peraza and Cozart have put in the time so they can be in sync for the regular season.

"We're working a lot. We want to be a really good combination," Peraza said. "We're doing early work and taking ground balls out there. We're practicing double plays. I think we're going to be good this year."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.