GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Joel Peralta enjoyed his four seasons in Tampa Bay, but he also was ready for a change.
“Don’t get me wrong. Great city, great organization,” Peralta said. “But I think I kind of needed a change of league. Four years in the AL East and those ballparks, man. That’s enough. I’m not a power pitcher. I have to trick guys to get them out and, after facing a guy 50 times, he has a pretty good idea what I’ve got.”
Peralta, 38, could benefit from the spacious stadiums, cool night air and new set of hitters on the West Coast. One of the more quietly reliable right-handed middle relievers a few years ago, his ERA (4.41) and WHIP (1.184) spiked a bit last season. Age is part of the reason, undoubtedly. His fastball velocity has declined slightly five years running, down to an average of 89.6 mph last year, but it’s reasonable to expect some uptick based on a new environment.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is a big fan of Peralta’s clubhouse personality as well as of his ability to miss bats and avoid walks. Even in a down year, Peralta had a 4.93 strikeout-to-walk ratio last season.
Peralta reported to camp with some tightness in his right shoulder, not the ideal way to make a first impression, but he has been making progress lately. He played catch from a distance of over 200 feet Friday and said he expects to throw his first bullpen of camp Monday. Barring a setback, that should give him plenty of time to prepare for Opening Day.
“We think it’s going to be all right,” Peralta said.