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Yankees sticking with Kiner-Falefa despite Peraza call-up

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Even after Oswald Peraza’s long-awaited call-up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Isiah Kiner-Falefa remains the team’s starting shortstop — at least for now.

Peraza and fellow rookie Oswaldo Cabrera were somewhat surprisingly left out of the lineup for the series opener Friday night against the Rays, and Kiner-Falefa was back at shortstop after his error helped cost the Yankees a victory against the Angels on Wednesday.

Boone said he had a conversation with Kiner-Falefa after the decision to bring up Peraza was made Thursday, when rosters expanded from 26 to 28.

“He’s such a big part of what we’re doing and I expect him to be in the middle of everything,’’ Boone said of Kiner-Falefa. “The best thing about Isiah is he wants to win and is willing to do anything it takes and be prepared. He’ll continue to play a lot.”

Isiah Kiner-Falefa throws to first base after fielding the ball to force out Vimael Machin of the Ahletics in the bottom of the fifth inning at RingCentral Coliseum on Aug. 25, 2022 in Oakland.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa throws to first base after fielding the ball to force out Vimael Machin of the Ahletics.
Getty Images

Asked if Kiner-Falefa would remain the starter at short, Boone said, without hesitating, “Yes.”

So where does that leave the 22-year-old Peraza, one the Yankees’ two top shortstop prospects, along with Anthony Volpe?

“We’ll see,’’ Boone said of Peraza’s role. “He’ll get some opportunities.”

Boone said Peraza would likely start at shortstop on Saturday and he also would consider using him at second base, though Peraza has just 10 games of experience at the position in the minors.

Oswald Peraza throws the ball during a spring training game against the Tigers in March.
Oswald Peraza throws the ball during a spring training game against the Tigers in March.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Cabrera has proven to be a valuable addition since being called up from SWB, starting at four different spots.

Boone added the team has “a lot of confidence” Peraza can play second and scouts have long liked Peraza’s glove and he added some power this season.

“We’ll see how the month unfolds,’’ Boone said. “He’ll get some opportunities, but I don’t want to put undue expectations on him.”

Boone also praised Peraza’s “all-around game.”

“He’s got the ability to impact the ball,’’ Boone said. “We view him as a long-term shortstop.”

Regardless of what the expectations are, Peraza has followed Cabrera to the majors with the hope of providing a spark for what has been an underperforming Yankees team.

After getting off to a historically good start to the season, the Yankees have been mediocre for much of the second half and they’ve been downright bad lately.

Their struggles helped the Rays to cut the Yankees’ lead in the AL East from 15 ½ games to six heading into Friday, the teams’ first of six meetings over the next 10 days.

With third baseman Josh Donaldson expected to go to the paternity list soon, Peraza could also be used at short, with either Cabrera or Kiner-Falefa at third.

Kiner-Falefa said he appreciated the talk with Boone about his role, but understands nothing is guaranteed.

“It was good to talk, but at the same time, Peraza deserves to be here,” Kiner-Falefa said. “I know he’s earned this and if they want him in there, I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team.”

Peraza, who was signed by the Yankees as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2017, said through an interpreter he was “at a [loss] for words about the opportunity of playing shortstop for the New York Yankees.”

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