Royals catcher Salvador Perez is back: 'It feels like opening day for me'
The lowest-scoring offense in baseball embraced a much-needed face-lift Tuesday. At long last, Royals manager Ned Yost wrote his All-Star catcher’s name into the lineup for the first time this season.
The Royals activated catcher Salvador Perez and outfielder Alex Gordon from the disabled list before Tuesday’s series opener with the Milwaukee Brewers, and Yost promptly put Perez in the cleanup spot, with Gordon hitting seventh.
“Having Salvador back in the middle of the lineup, it just balances it out a little more,” Yost said. “Balances out our right-left; balances out our power, I think, in the middle of the order, which we’ve been lacking a little bit. But I think it just balances the whole lineup.
“When you look at it, it’s a much better lineup with Salvador and Alex Gordon in it.”
In corresponding moves, outfielder Paulo Orlando and catcher Cam Gallagher were sent to Class AAA Omaha. The Royals also recalled left-handed pitcher Eric Stout from Omaha and placed right-handed reliever Justin Grimm on the disabled list because of lower back stiffness.
Two days before opening day, Perez tore a ligament in his knee while lifting a suitcase. He was initially provided a four-to-six-week timeline with the knee injury. In a rehab assignment with Omaha, Perez was 6 for 15 (.400) with a home run and two doubles. In his absence with the Royals, Gallagher and Drew Butera combined to hit .190 with three doubles and no home runs.
On his return to the lineup, Perez said, “It feels like opening day for me.”
Gordon was batting .174 with one double before injuring his hip on a slide into second base. He opted for rehab over surgery. He also took a rehab assignment with Omaha and had two hits in nine at-bats.
“Gordy’s a big presence in that lineup. Even when he’s struggling, he’s still a presence,” Yost said.
The roster moves added two veterans and one rookie. Stout, 25, has never pitched in a major-league game. He allowed four runs in 7 2/3 innings with Omaha before the call-up.
“I really like what I saw in spring training from him this year,” Yost said. “Been looking for an opportunity to get him up here. He’s got a good fastball, got a good slider, comes right after you. We like what we’ve seen.”
He will take Grimm’s spot in the bullpen. Grimm has allowed 17 runs in seven innings.
For a few days, the Royals had been pressing Grimm on his health, Yost said. He admitted Tuesday he was bothered by stiffness in his back.
“We kept asking him, ‘Are you all right?’ Because it definitely wasn’t him,” Yost said. “His inability to throw a striker with not only his fastball but his curveball, too, which is kind of his pitch.
“We knew something wasn’t right. He finally came clean that he was having trouble firing off his back side. He couldn’t get through the ball.”