The game felt meaningless, right up until the moment San Diego Padres right-hander Johnny Barbato felled Royals catcher Salvador Perez with a curveball in the third inning. The baseball connected behind Perez’s left ear.
He fell to the dirt. There he remained for a few moments, as manager Ned Yost and trainer Nick Kenney ran out to look over him. Perez walked off on his own power soon after. Kenney deemed the injury a “nonconcussive head impact,” and Perez communicated through a team spokesman, “I’m fine.”
Still, after a 9-5 Royals loss, the concern is obvious. Perez suffered a concussion last August. The team has tried a variety of methods, from improving his catcher’s gear to adjusting his positioning behind the plate, to avoid a repeat occurrence.
“It’s always scary,” Yost said. “But it’s even more scary when it’s Sal, when you know his history. But it was a slower-type breaking ball. It wasn’t a fastball. He was fine.”
The moment injected some fear into Wednesday’s otherwise languid contest, the Royals’ final Cactus League game of the spring. San Diego tagged starter James Shields for seven runs in the first inning. The Royals responded with a three-run rally in the second and a two-run spree in the third.
The Royals finished with a 11-15-2 record here.
“The game was longer than you want on a getaway day,” Yost said. “But in Arizona it tends to be like that, with rock-hard infields and the wind blowing straight out, and minor-league umpires behind the plate.”
Shields lasted four innings. He finished with a 4.74 ERA in five starts.
“Other than the first inning, I thought it was a pretty good effort out there,” Shields said.Arms race
With reliever Louis Coleman expected to begin the season on the disabled list, the Royals are contemplating taking only 11 pitchers on their Opening Day roster. Coleman has not recovered from a bone bruise he suffered on the middle finger of his right hand during the first week of camp.Medical updates
Second baseman Omar Infante (bone spur in elbow) went 2-for-5 in a minor-league game and completed five innings in the field.
“Felt really good at the end of the day,” Yost said. “So we’re progressing very well.”
Infante will work as the designated hitter in another minor-league game on Thursday. If he undertakes that assignment without issue, he would join the club Friday in Milwaukee.Etc.
The Royals will bring three veteran extras with them to Milwaukee: infielders Pedro Ciriaco and Jason Donald, plus catcher Ramon Hernandez. Both Ciriaco and Donald are competing to make the club as a backup infielder. Hernandez is insurance in case something happens to Brett Hayes, who is presumed to be Perez’s backup.Up next
The Royals have Thursday off. They will spend the day in Milwaukee. A two-game series against the Brewers begins Friday night at Miller Park. Jason Vargas will start the first game, which begins at 7:10 p.m. Central and can be heard on 610 Sports.Quote
“We’re all ready to go here. We’re excited to get on this airplane tonight, and get this thing started.” — James Shields, on the end of the Cactus League schedule