TORONTO — It didn’t take long for Royals catcher Salvy Perez to convince manager Ned Yost that his surgically repaired left knee is ready to withstand full-time duty behind the plate.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
“I’m no different from last year,” Perez said. “Everything is good. I don’t even think about it. I still take treatment. I get in the tub after games and ice it, but that’s about it.”
Perez started his fourth straight game Thursday night when the Royals closed their series against Toronto at Rogers Centre. So much for Yost’s plan to ease Perez back into form through a two-on, one-off schedule.
“He’s fine,” Yost said. “I’ll give him a day off (Friday in Detroit), and then he’ll catch the last two games (before the break).”
Perez entered Thursday with hits in each of his 10 games – a career-best streak – since returning June 22 after missing the season’s first 67 games while recovering from March 16 surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.
More important, perhaps, Perez has shown an ability to take some hits, too, including a foul tip Wednesday off his right knee – the good knee – that sent him spinning to the ground in pain and brought Yost out of the dugout for a check.
“When I went out there to check on him,” Yost recalled, “he said, ‘I’m OK. I’m OK.’ I said, ‘I know. I know it hurts. I took a bunch of those off my knee. I just never went on the ground after I took mine.’ He just laughed.”
And remained in the game.
“That’s what I want,” Perez said, “to play all the time. Every day.”
Royals closer Jonathan Broxton finished fourth among five Final Vote candidates in balloting to determine the final spot on the American League All-Star team.
Texas right-hander Yu Darvish beat out four other pitchers for the AL spot. Chicago’s Jake Peavy was second, followed by Baltimore’s Jason Hammel, Broxton and Los Angeles’ Ernesto Frieri.
St. Louis third baseman David Freese was the National League winner. Washington outfielder Bryce Harper finished second, followed by Atlanta outfielder Michael Bourn and Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill.
Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones was leading the NL vote earlier in the week before selected to the team as the replacement for injured Los Angeles outfielder Matt Kemp.
The Royals are poised to release veteran catcher Humberto Quintero after failing to swing a trade following their June 27 decision to designate him for assignment. The club requested unconditional release waivers Thursday on Quintero.
The move allows any team to claim Quintero, and the balance of his $1 million contract for $1. The rules also permit him to reject the claim and become a free agent – but with a catch. If he does so, he forfeits the remaining portion of his contract.
If unclaimed, Quintero becomes a free agent, and the Royals remain on the hook for the rest of his salary – minus a pro-rated portion of the major-league minimum if he eventually signs elsewhere.
Quintero, 32, was designated for assignment five days after Perez returned from the disabled list. Quintero batted .232 with one homer and 19 RBIs in 43 games while splitting time with Brayan Peña while Perez recovered for an injured knee.
It was Perez’s injury that led the Royals to acquire Quintero from Houston in a March 20 trade. The Royals also obtained outfielder Jason Bourgeois in exchange for two minor-leaguers: left-handed pitcher Kevin Chapman and outfielder D’Andre Toney.
Here’s one reason why Yost arranged his rotation to stack lefties Jonathan Sánchez, Bruce Chen and Everett Teaford for the three-game weekend series at Detroit:
The Tigers have hit just 17 homers this season against left-handed pitchers. That’s the second-lowest total among American League teams.
“(Jhonny) Peralta, (Delmon) Young and (Ryan) Raburn have to do something versus left-handed pitching,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said, “if we’re going to get rolling. It’s that simple.”
The only AL team with fewer homers against lefties is…yes, the Royals – with 15.
Veteran lefty Doug Davis continues to emerge as a post-break rotation candidate after posting another strong start Wednesday for Class AAA Omaha in an 11-2 victory at Iowa.
Davis, 36, is 5-1 with a 2.54 ERA after yielding two runs in 62/3 innings and has allowed just three runs in 242/3 innings over his last four starts. The Royals currently have two available spots on their 40-man roster.
Club officials considered promoting Davis for a start Tuesday against Toronto but opted against it, in part, because they preferred to start a right-hander, Vin Mazzaro, against the Blue Jays’ righty-dominated lineup.
Mazzaro gave up six runs and 13 hits over 51/3 innings in a 6-3 loss and was optioned to Omaha after the game.
The Royals signed Davis, a 13-year veteran with four teams, to a minor-league deal on May 12. He was 92-108 with a 4.44 ERA in 306 games, including 286 starts, from 1999-2011 with the Rangers, Brewers, Diamondbacks and Cubs.
The Royals stepped back into the international market by signing third baseman Samir Dueñez, a 16-year-old Venezuelan, for $425,000, according to Baseball America.
He is a left-handed hitter who turned 16 on June 11. Dueñez attracted attention last winter by batting .313 over 19 games in the Liga Paralela, a minor league in Venezuela.
Baseball America’s scouting report lists Dueñez as 6 feet 1 and 196 pounds and says he flashes raw power. It also characterizes him as having a “Pablo Sandoval body type,” and suggests he might shift eventually to first base.
The Royals placed three players on Baseball America’s mid-season top-50 prospects list: Omaha outfielder Wil Myers at No. 3, Omaha right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi at No. 29 and short-season Burlington outfielder Bubba Starling at No. 46.
Prospects had to be in the minors on July 1 and with the rookie eligibility still intact.
Baltimore pitcher Dylan Bundy ranked first, followed by Texas shortstop Jurickson Profar and Myers.
Right-hander Andrew Stueve knows how to make a strong first impression. After getting promoted Wednesday to Class A Wilmington, he retired all 14 hitters in 42/3 innings after replacing starter Chase Boruff in an 11-7 loss at Lynchburg.
Stueve, 23, was signed in 2011 as a non-drafted free agent out of Cal State-Stanislaus. He was the organization’s pitcher of the year last season for Surprise in the Arizona Rookie League after compiling a 2.09 ERA in 22 games.
It was 21 years ago Friday – July 6, 1991 – that Danny Tartabull became the last Royals player to hit three homers in a game by doing so in a 9-7 loss to Oakland at then-Royals Stadium.
It was the seventh time that a Royals player hit three homers in a game. John Mayberry and George Brett did it twice, while Tony Solaita, Bo Jackson and Tartabull did it once.