ST. PETERSBURG -- After notching a five-out save on Wednesday night, Joel Peralta arrived to Tropicana Field dressed for a day of leisure.
Manager Joe Maddon told Peralta he had the day off after the veteran reliever preserved the Rays' 5-4 win in heroic fashion, earning his first save of the season. So the veteran reliever showed up at the clubhouse wearing beach attire, including swim trunks, straw hat, and flip flops, while carrying a beach ball.
Maddon "said go to the beach," Peralta teased.
Kidding aside, facing Peralta has not been a day at the beach for opposing hitters lately. He has not been charged with an earned run in his last 10 appearances (9 2/3 innings) and has surrendered just three hits during that stretch.
Peralta struggled earlier in the season, when he gave up four earned runs at Boston on April 13 without retiring a batter. After that appearance, Peralta worked with pitching coach Jim Hickey and felt better. Then his long-time pitching coach, Fausto Mejia, flew in from the Dominican Republic to help his pupil, who was struggling with his mechanics at the time.
"[Mejia] is the one who taught me everything from Day 1," Peralta said. "He saw some things. A friend of mine was recording me on video and he watched the videos and called me on the phone and said I was doing a lot of things I wasn't supposed to do. So he bought a plane ticket and came over on [April 20]. We started working out the very next morning and everything started getting better and better."
Peralta noticed a dramatic difference in how his delivery felt after working with Mejia.
"He saw things that probably only he could notice, because he was the one who built me, you know," Peralta said. "And I've been that same guy for 13 years. He saw it and fixed it right away."
Peralta noted that Mejia was the man who converted him from an infielder to a pitcher.