AP (TACOMA) - It hasn’t always been easy, but D.J. Peterson may finally be on the track to stardom.
Blessed with truck-loads of natural hitting ability, the former first-rounder looked like he might be in Seattle already. He hit 32 homers while climbing two levels in the M’s system in 2014. Some thought he might start at AAA Tacoma in 2015, but the organization felt like he needed a little more time at AA to begin the year.
That was when the trouble started.
First, there was a roadblock. The Mariners signed their All-Star third baseman Kyle Seager to a seven-year, $105 million extension in the offseason. It was a fair deal, and Seager was more than deserving. But it meant that Peterson, who was growing comfortable at the hot corner himself, was destined elsewhere.
While moving across the diamond to a relatively new role at first base, he hit another speed bump: his bat went cold. It was something that he’d never faced on any level from Little League on.
"I don’t really know what happened," he recently told reporters. "The hits just weren’t falling. I wasn’t keeping my hands back. I was pulling my head. I wasn’t transferring my weight properly. I wasn’t reading the spin off the ball so well. I was cheating on the fastball. I wasn’t being aggressive in the zone. I told my coaches about it, and they said I would figure it out. I guess they were right."
Whatever the cause, Peterson appears to be back to his old self. By the end of June, Peterson was only batting .211. Since the calendar turned to July, that number is a far healthier .247.
Now, the phenom is headed to his rightful place in Tacoma, with an eye toward taking over the first base position in the big leagues in 2016. His confidence, nearly shaken, has returned.
"I just want to take it easy out there, relax, not make it too complicated for myself," Peterson said. "I’m a hitter. I’ll always hit. It’s just about showing what I can do and earning myself the chance to make it to the bigs."
This time, nothing is going to slow him down.