The elements appeared in place for a night off for Royals catcher Salvador Perez. He had tweaked his right knee the night before. His replacement, Erik Kratz, boomed two homers in his absence. As the club slogs through a pennant race, the health of their backstop is crucial.
Yet Perez occupied his customary place in the team’s lineup at Coors Field. Manager Ned Yost was succinct in his explanation:
“Because Sal works good with (James) Shields,” who faced the Rockies on Tuesday evening. “And Sal feels all right.”
Perez confirmed this diagnosis. He referred to the condition of his knee as “good.” He did not even need to talk his way into the lineup, he said.
So Kratz remained on the bench. Perez returned to his usual perch. He started behind the plate for the 112th time in 2014. He leads all catchers in that category.
Perez felt a pinch in his knee as he rounded the bases in Monday’s fifth inning. He caught two more innings behind the plate before the team removed him. Perez described his injury as a feeling of tightness, rather than pain. Yost downplayed the severity of the situation.
“There was no concern,” Yost said when asked if he felt relieved Perez will not miss time. “How can you get relief when there was no concern?”
Cain back in mix
Lorenzo Cain sat out four of the last five games, as Yost intended to stick with the “hot hand” in the form of backup outfielder Jarrod Dyson. The maneuvering paid off — Dyson hit .300 in three games against the Twins this weekend, scored two runs and stole a base.
But Cain returned to action for Tuesday. With left-handed pitcher Tyler Matzek on the mound, Yost wanted Cain’s right-handed bat in the lineup. Cain is also expected to start on Wednesday against southpaw Jorge De La Rosa.
Beware the jinx
The surging Royals earned a rare honor for the franchise this week, when they were featured on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated. The team last appeared on the front of the venerated magazine during spring training in 2013 with a picture of Shields.
The photograph this time features Billy Butler rounding the bases. Butler said he plans to have a copy framed.