Salvador Perez was a late scratch from the lineup Friday as the Royals opened a three-game series in Detroit, beginning the club’s final road set of the season.
Perez’s name was in the original lineup, but Royals manager Ned Yost opted to give him a day off to rest a sore knee. Yost described the ailment as minimal, classifying it as part of the season’s general wear and tear. But he did disclose that Perez had been battling through some soreness for the last couple weeks.
“But he’s fine,” Yost said. “The trainers gave him full clearance. If we need him tonight, he’s ready to go.”
Perez will likely return to the lineup Saturday. And while it’s possible he could see some additional days off during the season’s final eight games, Yost said he had no plans for a full shutdown of Perez, the 26-year-old who has caught more games behind the plate than any catcher in baseball over the last three seasons.
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In an interview on Thursday in Cleveland, Yost stressed that the Royals are still trying to finish strong and cement an above .500 record. And with the Detroit Tigers still in the thick of the American League wild-card race, the team will likely feel obligated to field a competitive lineup for the duration of the series.
“We're trying to win,” Yost said. “Why would you want to sit (Perez)? Walk in there and ask him if he'd be willing to sit five games, and find him a bat before you do.”
The statement was made in jest, of course. But it underscored another important point. Perez, a four-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner, still has an opportunity to set career highs in homers and doubles. And the Royals do not believe an extra week of rest would offer a significant benefit, especially with the club set to have October off for the first time since 2013.
This does not mean Perez won’t benefit from a longer offseason. After making two straight trips to the World Series, Perez entered Friday having caught 435 games over the last three seasons, including 31 in the playoffs. After making 137 starts behind the plate during the 2015 regular season, Perez has caught 124 games in 2016.
The decreased workload is partly the result of a quadriceps contusion that caused him to miss a week in late May and early June. The Royals have also been slightly more judicious in building in off days. Perez had four days off in August before getting another five days off this month. The number could also increase before the end of the season, especially if the knee soreness lingers.
But as he sat inside a dugout at Comerica Park on Friday, Yost dismissed the soreness as more than minor.
“A little banged up, nothing serious,” he said. “Just decided to give him a day.”