The story of the perseverance of Rice player David Peralta

DETROIT – Cleaning toilets and working night shifts at a McDonald’s in Port St. Lucy was a tough way to continue your baseball career.

David Peralta was 23 years old, and he was doing a real job for the first time. He’d make french fries, run the car window, take orders and grouch from customers – all for $6-7 an hour.

But he had to do something.

Peralta was released in May 2009 by the Cardinals after two seasons, and shoulder surgery, as a pitcher. He wanted to continue chasing his dream of the big league once again as a defensive player. But with nowhere to play the following year, he sat at home in Florida, and his wife Jordan—a former softball player in college—was hitting on him.

He had one show of 2011, in one of the less independent leagues, with the Rio Grande Valley of the North American Baseball League. So he had to drive 1,400 miles from Florida to Harlingen, Texas.

“It wasn’t easy, but I needed cash to pay for gas,” Peralta said. “So I worked for a month at McDonald’s to make it play.”

Life at the independent ball wasn’t much better.

David Peralta has achieved 0.300 or better twice, scored 30 homers and 87 RBIs in 2018 and won Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards with the Diamondbacks. [ RICK SCUTERI | AP ]

But it turns out to be the beginning of the rest of his life – which has now brought him to the Rays through trade.

It’s an incredible story,” said Chris Carmenucci, the Diamondbacks explorer who eventually signed him. “I will spend the rest of my life trying to find the next David Peralta. And I can tell you, it will be difficult.”

Peralta was making perhaps $1,200 a month with the Rio Grande Valley sending some of it to Jordan, who worked two jobs. He paid rent to share three colleagues in a two-room apartment. He slept on a leaky air mattress he bought at Walmart, then ripped off a sofa on a street corner. Going to bed hungry some nights because he ran out of money to buy food.

But play baseball.

“It’s tough,” Peralta said. “You’re going there to follow your dream, to be seen and see if an affiliate team can give you the chance.”

I’ve taken a while.

After spending 2011 with the Rio Grande Valley, he moved to the American League, where he played (well) with the Wichita (Kan.) Wingnuts in 2012 and the Amarillo (Texas) Sox in 2013. He would head to Venezuela every winter to play anything. time you can argue.

“I’ve been walking around every year with big numbers, and I’ve been going back to Venezuela to play winter ball to get better,” Peralta said. “Then I started getting worried, like, ‘Hey, what else should I do to get the team’s attention? “

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In his third season of independent play in the league, Peralta got that break.

Carmenucci, whose coverage includes independent tournaments, has heard of the swinging leftist. Among the contestants was longtime Premier League player Pete Incavillea, who has coached and coached in the same league.

Carmenucci went to see Peralta in 2012 and was impressed. Enough to want him to be monitored and eventually given his number, which Peralta used to text him almost daily, explaining his case.

“It wasn’t a situation he was trying to be arrogant, he just wanted him so badly,” Carmenucci said. “He believed in himself so much, that some players don’t because they’ve been defeated. … He was that guy who kept going: ‘I can do it. If you give me the chance, I’ll go to the big leagues. A lot of guys say that he really did.”

In early 2013, there was a joint exercise for players looking for jobs in the Independent League at Al Lange Stadium in Saint Petersburg. (“Sort of a full circle, huh?” Carmenucci said.) He called Peralta to lead, set up a private session and threw him into the batting cage, getting sold on the player and the person.

Carmenucci started pushing his superiors to sign Peralta, and it became a matter of finding a place for him. On July 3, 2013, the Diamondbacks finally signed Peralta (no bonus, paid just $2,500 to the Indy League to buy his contract) and sent him, at 25, to Class A. It did well there and continued into the spring. Training and when 2014 started at Double-A.

On June 30, 2014 – 11 months after signing – Peralta reached the majors.

And soon he made it big.

He hit 0.300 or better twice, posted 30 homers and 87 RBI in 2018, won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove, signed a three-year, $22 million contract, earned a cool nickname — “Freight Train” — and the accompanying T-shirts, It was traded as a veteran bungee rental.

“It’s the reason why, in this game, we should never give up on the players, because the players are still missing, and the guys are still shining late,” Carmenucci said. “It’s a living testimony to that.”

Peralta, who turns 35 next week, appreciates that the story of his perseverance can be both motivating and inspiring, and he’s always ready to share.

“It’s like a lesson to everyone,” he said, “that you can’t give up on your dream.” “Throughout my career, I just wanted to be a top player. I wanted to be in the major leagues. I made the decision to be a top player as a pitcher, but it didn’t work out for me. But I never stopped following my dream.”

Sometimes — in fact, “like over a million times,” Peralta jokes — he reminds himself of his improbable journey by watching the video of his first league hit, a second single from his debut.

“I have it on my phone, on my social media, everywhere,” he said. “This is always a good reminder of where you come from and what it takes to get there.”

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