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HomeNewsAs Decisions Loom, Volpe and Peraza capitalize on time together

As Decisions Loom, Volpe and Peraza capitalize on time together


While Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza have been locked in a high-profile competition to become the Yankees’ starting shortstop this spring, the two have also made it a point to meet.

The Yankees had already promoted Peraza to the majors over a cup of coffee last September when Volpe arrived at Triple-A, so they hadn’t had a chance to play together — or hang out — until camp began this year. . Both of those things have changed in Florida, with Volpe, 21, and Peraza, 22, playing in the middle simultaneously on occasion and even participating in a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game together.

“It’s the first time we’ve really played together and we’re in the same clubhouse, but it’s been amazing,” Volpe told the Daily News. “He’s a great teammate and someone I want to play with.”

However, as spring training winds down, the Yankees have some decisions to make regarding sentiment for Volpe.

Which prospect, Volpe ranks best in the organization while Peraza is third, will be the shortstop? Could they both make the team? Will trading a veteran infielder clear the space for that? And which would-be rookie would transition to second base, either now or in the future, if the Yankees’ goal is for the two to serve as their middle infield going forward?

While Peraza entered camp with an experience advantage — he appeared in 18 Major League games last season while Volpe logged 22 games at Triple-A — Volpe has enjoyed a superior spring.

Volpe, who started and managed short behind Opening Day starter Gerrit Cole on Friday at Tampa, began the day slashing .279/.404/.535 with five doubles, two long balls, three RBIs and five stolen bases. He then proceeded to homer off the Twins’ own Opening Day starter Pablo Lopez, sending a first-pitch sweeper to center field for a two-run shot after the Minnesota left-hander struck out Volpe on the same pitch on his lefty. first at bat.

“He looks like paper,” Aaron Boone said afterward, praising the youngster’s fit in the game.

Peraza, meanwhile, has had much less success at the plate this spring after he hit .306 in 18 MLB games last season, plus a few postseason starts. He was slashing .171/.293/.314 with two doubles, a home run, an RBI and two stolen bases before starting short and hitting second in the Yankees’ “B” game Friday night against the Orioles. .

“In both guys, you’re talking about complete players. Offense, base running, defense,” Boone said between games, though he noted that Peraza has been “okay” offensively and that his “numbers aren’t great.”

Boone added that he “thinks” the Yankees will know their roster decisions before they leave Florida next week, though he made sure to stress that word.

While the two have had mixed springs, there’s still a chance Volpe and Peraza could play together again in the Bronx this season, even if only one starts the season there. Both players are aware that one can end up at second base in the long run.

“At the end of the day, we’re having fun and trying to do the best we can,” Peraza told The News when asked about playing in the middle with Volpe. “And if the position comes up, I know we’ll give it the best we’ve got.”

Adds Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who was in the shortstop fight early in camp but is now focusing on some super useful work: “They can play any role they want. It all depends on them. (The Yankees) will definitely make room for them if they’re ready. But at the end of the day, it’s up to them.”

If the Bombers want to have both kids in the lineup at some point, they may have to make a trade.

Between the two prospects, Kiner-Falefa, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu and Oswaldo Cabrera, there are plenty of options that can play up the middle. Kiner-Falefa and Torres have been featured in trade rumors before, and Torres is the least versatile of the bunch.

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“It’s exciting to think that you have two young players who can grow together,” former Yankees captain and guest coach Willie Randolph told The News when asked about Volpe and Peraza. “You know, we have a lot of infielders … so it seems to be a bit of a crowded field. But I’m excited when I see young talent in the draw.”

However the Yankees roster is shaken up, Volpe and Peraza are making the most of their time together before camp ends. In addition to playing in a few games side by side, they’ve been picking their brains out in the cage and in the infield.

“It feels great,” Volpe said of his relationship with his main competitor. “Even in early defensive work, stuff like that, coming out together has been amazing.”

Peraza echoed similar sentiments, and Yankees coaches and players have seen them push each other to be better.

“They both communicate quite a lot in the game. It’s nice to see them laugh and smile every once in a while during the game and constantly communicate about who has coverage and all that stuff,” first base and infield coach Travis Chapman told The News. “Any time you have guys hanging out and getting closer, it’s a great thing, whether it’s eating together, hanging out, playing video games or whatever it is that they do.”

Kiner-Falefa, for his part, noted that “there is no bad blood” between Volpe and Peraza, while Cole recently praised the positive vibes the neophytes have brought to the camp.

“Not a bad pick,” the right-hander said, “but it’s kind of inspiring. It’s a good battle, and it’s fun to watch. The whole world feeds off that energy.”

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