MINNEAPOLIS — How good is Royals catcher Salvy Perez at picking off opposing runners? The better question might be how long will it take before those opposing runners learn how good he is?
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Perez missed the seasons first 67 games while recovering from surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and he still leads all catchers with four pickoffs. (He probably also leads in near-pickoffs; does anyone chart that?)
Im always looking, he said. If my infielders give me a sign, Ill try for it.
Toronto catcher Jeff Mathis has three pickoffs. No other catcher in either league has more than two. Perez is the only American League catcher in the last five years with more than three pickoffs in the same season.
Perezs four pickoffs are the clubs single-season record for a catcher. He is also already tied for the clubs career record with seven pickoffs after only 8362/3 innings over 95 career games as a catcher.
Some perspective: Darrell Porter had seven pickoffs from 1977-80 in 4,2192/3 innings over 492 games. Mike Macfarlane is third on the Royals all-time list with six pickoffs in 6,398 innings over 798 games from 1987-98.
Still chasing 100
Billy Butler enters Tuesdays series opener against the Twins at 22 games and counting in search of his 100th career homer. Whenever he gets it, he will be the 12th player in franchise history to reach triple figures.
The first 11: George Brett 317, Mike Sweeney 197, Amos Otis 193, Hal McRae 169, Frank White 160, John Mayberry 143, Danny Tartabull 124, Carlos Beltran 123, Steve Balboni 119, Bo Jackson 109 and Mike Macfarlane 103.
Besides Butler, the current Royal closest to 100 is Alex Gordon at 79. Then it drops to Jeff Francoeur and Eric Hosmer at 32.
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain is surging again with a .311 average over his last 12 games after an extended slump. He has two doubles, two homers, six runs and four RBIs in that span.
Its been a streaky (and injury-filled) year for Cain, who was two for 15 in five games prior to suffering a strained groin in the seasons fifth game. A subsequent torn left hip flexor delayed his return until July 13.
Cain batted .390 (16 for 41) with three homers and 13 RBIs in his first 13 games after returning to active duty. Then came a .204 slide over 30 games with just two homers and 10 RBIs before his current resurgence.
Class AAA Omaha plays Tuesday at Reno, a Diamondbacks affiliate, in the opening game of the best-of-five Pacific Coast League championship series.
The Storm Chasers, the defending PCL champions, reached the finals by winning 16-7 at Albuquerque on Sunday on the decisive fifth game of the American Conference championship series.
Tuesdays opener offers a marquee pitching matchup: Omaha right-hander Jake Odorizzi (15-5, 3.03 ERA at all minor-league levels) against Reno right-hander Trevor Bauer (12-2, 2.42 at all minor-league levels).
The series continues Wednesday at Reno before shifting Friday to Omaha. The fourth and fifth games, if necessary, are Saturday and Sunday at Omaha.
It was 43 years ago Tuesday Sept. 11, 1969 that owner Ewing Kauffman announced plans to create the Royals Baseball Academy in Sarasota, Fla.
Operations at the 121-acre facility, built at a cost of $1.5 million, lasted until May 1974. The facilities are now part of Twins Lakes Park, which is owned by Sarasota County, and were renamed as the Buck ONeil Baseball Complex in 1995.