ST. LOUIS -- On a day when he made his first public appearance as a Cardinal, new shortstop Jhonny Peralta expressed remorse for his past performance-enhancing drug transgressions and a desire to prove that the Cardinals made the right decision to look beyond his mistakes.
Peralta, who signed a four-year, $53 million contract in November, is coming off a season marred by his connection to Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in Florida that allegedly supplied players with PEDs. Peralta accepted a 50-game suspension for violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy last summer before returning to the Tigers at the end of the season.
He was strong in his late-season return, and Peralta, 31, wants to show he is still plenty capable of being a key contributor.
"I want to show to the fans and to the people that it's not what everybody thinks about it," Peralta said during his Winter Warm-Up appearance. "I know I could play baseball before [this connection to Biogenesis]. I know I can play baseball naturally. I have to show people that I can do it and that I can help."
Asked if he would address his new teammates regarding his PED past as he did his teammates in Detroit last year, Peralta added: "I'm trying to put it in the past. I'm trying to look forward and forget about it. I know a lot of the guys here in St. Louis are pretty good guys. I think they're going to welcome me."
Peralta, who fills what was a gaping hole at shortstop, said several teams were courting him to play that position this offseason. The reputation of the Cardinals organization and the chance to play on a perennial playoff contender drew him to St. Louis.
"I knew the Cardinals needed somebody to play shortstop and that offense was more important for them," Peralta said. "I had a couple of opportunities to go different places, but I decided to come here. It's a better organization, and it will be good to play here.
"I've been watching the Cardinals for a long time, and this was one of the teams I wanted to be with. It's a great organization and there's a great opportunity to be a champion. I want to be a champion, too. When my agent told me about [their interest], I was very excited about it."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.