Salvador Perez goes four for four but can’t stop key wild pitch

03/31/2014 5:09 PM

04/03/2014 9:32 AM

In the wake of a 4-3 Opening Day loss to the Tigers on Monday, Royals catcher Salvador Perez eschewed the pretense of a bittersweet afternoon. His outstanding performance at the plate, when he went four for four with a pair of doubles, did little to lift the pall of defeat.

“I feel bad,” Perez said inside the visitors clubhouse at Comerica Park. “I feel bad. Sometimes I go oh for four, and we win the game. I feel happy for that.”

He could not hold onto a similar feeling on Monday. He also played a part in one of the game’s critical moments, when he could not maneuver in time to block a wild pitch by reliever Aaron Crow in the seventh. A run scored, Crow subsequently gave up another and the Royals were on their way to defeat.

They could hardly blame Perez. He was their most consistent offensive force on Monday.

The rest of his teammates went three for 31. Eric Hosmer looped a first-inning double. Lorenzo Cain singled in the fourth. Billy Butler notched a hit in the fifth. Otherwise, they were unable to combat Tigers starter Justin Verlander and the rest of Detroit’s bullpen.

Perez had far better luck. In his first at-bat, he crushed a double off the center-field wall. In his second, he dunked an RBI double off the warning track in left. A pair of hard-hit singles followed.

He was a solid offensive contributor in 2013, with a .757 on-base plus slugging percentage. But his output on Monday hinted at another dimension of improvement.

“I’m going to play hard every day,” Perez said. “Just try to do my job: See the ball, try to hit the ball hard. I swung at some good pitches. That’s the way I want to do it all year.”

Aoki struggles at plate

In his first game as a Royal, Nori Aoki completed a rare feat. He struck out more than once in a single game.

Last season in Milwaukee, Aoki completed that feat all of three times. But Verlander made him look foolish on multiple occasions, fanning him with a curveball in the third and another bender in the sixth.

The lack of production helped Aoki fit in with his teammates on Monday. Omar Infante went zero for four, but drove in a run with a walk. Mike Moustakas reached in the second when Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter dropped a flyball, but still went zero for four. Alex Gordon went zero for three with a walk.

Infante’s injury a ‘headache’

Manager Ned Yost remains unconcerned with the severity of Infante’s elbow injury. He will learn how to manage the pain caused by the bone spur, Yost said.

“It’s the equivalent of a headache,” Yost said. “It comes and it goes. It’s not fun when it hurts. But you can still manage through it, for the most part.”

Chen rejoins team

Bruce Chen, the team’s fifth starter, rejoined the club on Monday morning. He pitched in a minor-league game back at the team’s complex in Surprise, Ariz.


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