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09/26/08 7:53 PM ET

Peralta's start at third isn't an audition

Skipper Wedge insists that infield switch is due to necessity

CHICAGO -- Manager Eric Wedge wanted to make it clear: This was no audition.

Wedge insists he didn't start Jhonny Peralta at third on Friday night, as anticipated, to get a feel for him at the hot corner for next season.

"We're short-handed without Andy [Marte]," Wedge said. "We can't run Jamey [Carroll] out there all the way through."

That might be so, but Peralta's move to third is, at the least, a matter of intrigue at the tail end of the '08 season. It has long been speculated that Peralta's future might be at third, considering Asdrubal Cabrera's natural position is shortstop. If the Indians shop for a second baseman this winter, that move might just happen. If they find a third baseman, it obviously wouldn't.

Friday's start marked Peralta's first appearance at third since Oct. 2, 2004. It was his ninth big league start at the position, and he saw regular time at the hot corner in Triple-A Buffalo in '04.

Asked to compare playing third to playing short, where he has often been criticized for his lack of range, Peralta said his reaction time will have to speed up.

"The ball gets on you quicker," he said. "But you don't have to move side to side as much."

If it were up to Peralta, he would stay at short.

Of course, it's not up to Peralta. The Indians have a glaring hole at third -- one Marte, who's disappointing season ended Tuesday when he strained his left calf, will not be filling.

"I feel comfortable at short," Peralta said. "That's where I've played my whole life."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.