Since 2006 only one Cincinnati Red has patrolled second base on opening day, but this year that longstanding consistency will change.
Brandon Phillips has been traded to the Atlanta Braves, which means Jose Peraza is the leading candidate for the second base job. And in fact it would take a woeful spring for him to lose his opportunity.
"Peraza, to me, based on his body of work last year at the big league level, is a big league regular," manager Brian Price said. "He'd have to play his way off that opportunity."
Peraza is a 23 year old prospect who the Reds nabbed as their blue chip piece in the Todd Frazier trade. Last season he batted .324 and stole 21 bases in 72 games and while his ceiling seems high his task is undoubtedly difficult as he not only has to replace one of the most productive bats and gloves in the game, but he also is replacing one of the most beloved Reds in recent history.
That beloved Red, Brandon Phillips, earned the adoration of the fans through his infectious smile and his play-making ability earned him 4 gold gloves, 3 all star game appearances, and a silver slugger award, all in what was a storied Redleg career.
Instead of being Phillips, Peraza knows he just needs to be himself, because the more he tries to be something that he is not the harder his job will be.
"I'm here to work. I've been thinking about it," Peraza said via translator Julio Morillo. "The opportunity is there. I have to take it. I want to say thanks to Brandon, because I learned a lot of things about him, how to play second base. He taught me a lot. I wish him a really good year with the Atlanta Braves."
Another prospect in the Reds organization, Dilson Hererra, will likely get time at second this year, and the Reds have made clear their intention to move shortstop Zack Cozart.
If Cozart is eventually traded then it is likely Peraza would move to short and Hererra would move to second base.
Until that time comes though, the middle infield for the Reds is going to be Peraza and Cozart, two players who are known for solid gloves, similar to what the Cozart-Phillips duo gave them.
One of the things Peraza hopes to give the Reds that the aging Brandon Phillips couldn't as much now as he did in his youth is speed. Cincinnati will put Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza in the one and two holes of the lineup, and their speed in front of one of the best hitter's in the game, Joey Votto, could be a dangerously effective top of the order.
An old fan favorite graphic from Riverfront Stadium, "Walks will haunt," might come in handy this year for the Reds, because every time Peraza or Phillips find their way to first, they will be bound to wreak havoc.