This was the nightmare scenario.
Supporters of the World Baseball Classic touted that teammates on Major League Baseball teams could face off in the tournament while representing their countries.
The downside is that one of those players could get hurt during the competition. And, well, no one could have foreseen what happened Saturday in Jalisco, Mexico.
Royals catcher Drew Butera tried to score the winning run for Team Italy in the bottom of the ninth inning against Team Venezuela. Unfortunately, Butera ran into the left knee of Venezuela catcher Salvador Perez, his Royals teammate.
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Butera told Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com: “I feel really bad. But I thought the ball was going to be in the gap and I was just trying to score. When I saw that I was going to be out by a lot I just stopped. It was unfortunate that I hit him where I did.”
Royals general manager Dayton Moore said that Perez was being taken to a hospital, and that he didn’t expect to know the severity of the injury until Sunday at the earliest.
“He’ll be examined and they’ll go through the proper tests and imaging,” Moore said.
There was a bit of good news from ESPN’s Marly Rivera, who is in Jalisco. She reported that Perez “reached out to KC Royals to tell them that it’s not a severe injury.”
Late on Saturday night, Team Venezuela released a statement that said initial tests showed Perez had inflammation in his knee.
“After being evaluated by the medical body Salvador Perez only had inflammation in the left knee that will remove him from the Venezuela team for what remains of the World Baseball Classic,” the statement said.
“Magnetic resonance imaging of the recipient showed no damage beyond inflammation.”
It was a freak play that led to the collision.
Venezuela manager Omar Vizquel said after that game that pitcher Francisco Rodriguez was in the wrong spot when he fielded the throw from the outfield in front of the pitcher’s mound. The ball bounced to Rodriguez who threw to Perez who was then hit by Butera.
“He’s supposed to be behind the catcher backing him up,” Vizquel told reporters. “We didn’t really have a cutoff man there, and the ball just happened to fall into his hands. He bobbled it a little bit. He threw home and put a good throw on the catcher that I think Salvador wasn’t even expecting. That’s why he got caught a little bit of surprise and his feet were crossed over, and I think that’s why he got that injury.”
Last May, Perez injured his left leg in a collision with another teammate. Infielder Cheslor Cuthbert and Perez were trying to make a catch on a foul ball against the White Sox. Perez had to be helped off the field, and missed six games, although he didn’t need to spend time on the disabled list.
Venezuela won 11-10 in 10 innings.