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David Peralta’s heart firmly with D-backs as he works to elevate game

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

One of the many offseason moves the Arizona Diamondbacks made was shoring up the Freight Train that resides in left field.

Under contract with the team until 2022, D-backs Gold Glover David Peralta is staying in the Valley for the foreseeable future, something the outfielder wanted throughout his contract talks.

“I’m really happy to stay here. When we started talking about extension and all this kind of stuff, I was like, ‘this is what we want.’ I was talking with my wife and I’m like, ‘hey, D-backs, the fans, I love them. They’re the best,'” Peralta told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro and Doug Franz during D-backs Fan Fest on Saturday.

“And the D-backs as a team have given me an opportunity here, they believe in me. … I just want to stay here, my heart’s here with the D-backs, I love the fans, they’re the best, and I don’t want to go anywhere.”

The extension means more to Peralta than what meets the eye.

While many know Peralta as one of the team’s bigger and better bats in the lineup, the outfielder’s game looked completely different back in the early 2000s. Originally getting his start with the St. Louis Cardinals organization back in 2006, Peralta took the mound, not the outfield. As a pitcher, Peralta never made it passed rookie ball, undergoing a pair of surgeries on his throwing shoulder and eventually getting cut in 2009 by the organization.

Seemingly out of options in the pitching department, Peralta turned his full attention to the outfield and building his prowess around the plate. But even then, it was difficult to entice MLB clubs to take a chance on the pitcher-turned-outfielder. With his no-quit mentality still firmly locked in, Peralta tried out for independent league ballclubs before joining the Rio Grande Valley Whitewings of the North American League. He also went on to play for the Wichita Wingnuts and Amarillo Sox. In 225 games with the independent squads, Peralta batted .359 with 28 homers and 189 RBIs.

From there, Peralta ended up meeting the D-backs coordinator of independent league scouting, Chris Carminucci, in 2012. After remaining in constant communication with the scout, he was signed by the organization in 2013. Now, he’s entering Year 7 as an MLB outfielder.

“He is committed to this organization, that’s why I was so glad that we could extend David,” D-backs CEO and President Derrick Hall told Gambadoro and Franz. “He is a D-back, he is a fan favorite for this reason, he loves our fans, he loves the organization. He would look strange in another uniform.

“And I still say this, there’s going to be a movie written about David Peralta one day. That life story, just everything he’s been through, where he was from starting as a pitcher to having to learn how to be a position player. … It’s a great story.”

As for who Peralta used for inspiration? None other than Rick Ankiel, a former Cardinal who had been through similar circumstances.

“I saw him [in Jupiter, Fla.,] and I was talking to him about my situation and he was checking my swing. That was a long time ago, I’m talking 2010,” Peralta said. “He told me, ‘I think you have a pretty good swing.’ I said, ‘well I know you did it and I’m going to work hard to do the same thing.’ And it happened.”

Peralta’s done a lot to solidify himself in an MLB lineup and in the Valley, including 85 career homers, 330 RBIs and 704 hits.

But with the contract and the ever-evolving game, the outfielder is consistently trying to find ways to elevate his play to another level.

Lukcily for Peralta, he can pick the brains of two of his new teammates who make a living in the outfield.

“We’re going to be the best, that’s what we’re going to do,” Peralta said when asked about the team’s run-saving abilities after the offseason acquisitions the team made. “I’m excited to be with [Kole] Calhoun and Starling Marte. I want to learn from them too because they’re really good, and for myself, I want to be better. I can’t wait to start spring training and start talking with them and working with all this kind of stuff to get better.”

BASE HITS

Peralta on A.J. Pollock’s comments on the D-backs and their fans:

“I feel the same way as [GM Mike Hazen] feels. We have to respect the team, but we’re the same players. We have a bat, we have pitchers, they have it the same way. We just have to compete, and this is all about baseball. We’re going to go out there, we’re going to compete. It doesn’t matter who we’re going to face, we’re just going to do our best. That’s what we’re doing and that’s what we’re gonna do, and I believe this year will be even better because we are all healthy.

“We’re going to have such a great group of guys, and of course, we’re going to need the support of the fans everyday. … I wasn’t really happy about that because I really love my fans, I really love the D-backs. That really kinda hurt me, pissed me off, but it is what it is. You’re allowed to say whatever you want to say but I like to prove people wrong and that’s what we’re gonna do together.”


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