Royals

Salvador Perez continues to play for Royals despite terrible slump

Royals catcher Salvador Perez has become the least-selective hitter in baseball. He entered Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago Wite Sox with a .574 on-base plus slugging percentage in the second half, as compared with a .765 OPS into the All-Star break.
Royals catcher Salvador Perez has become the least-selective hitter in baseball. He entered Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago Wite Sox with a .574 on-base plus slugging percentage in the second half, as compared with a .765 OPS into the All-Star break. The Kansas City Star

Royals catcher Salvador Perez absorbed a foul tip on his thigh Tuesday night, the sort of nettlesome injury that strikes a catcher in the course of duty. The ding registered with manager Ned Yost but carried little weight when he charted his lineup for the series finale against the Chicago White Sox.

“Where Sal got hit last night, it hurts for a while,” Yost said Wednesday before the Royals played the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. “It stings when you get a foul ball. But it goes away. And you forget about it.”

The playing time of Perez has not slackened, even as his offensive production has disappeared. In the second half, Perez has morphed from a dangerous presence in the Royals lineup into a black hole. He entered Wednesday’s game with a .574 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in the second half, compared with a .765 OPS going into the All-Star break.

That week at Target Field in Minneapolis, Perez brushed shoulders with the game’s greats. He started for the American League behind the plate. He did not look out of place, either.

But since he returned from his second appearance in the Midsummer Classic, Perez has been a disaster. He has become one of the least selective hitters in the majors. Perez has always been aggressive, sometimes to a fault. But the quality has undercut him as the season progresses.

Heading into Wednesday, Perez had swung at 52.4 percent of the pitches he saw outside the strike zone. This was the worst percentage of the 163 players qualified for the batting title. He swung at 61.9 percent of the pitches he saw total, trailing only San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval (62.0 percent) for that additional total.

“He’s anxious,” Yost said. “He’s too anxious. Trying to do too much. Getting in a hurry.”

Yost indicated there was little correlation between fatigue and Perez’s approach. He insisted Perez was too important on defense to sit for a day of mental and physical rest. Left fielder Alex Gordon fits in the same category, Yost said.

“There’s times you want to give Gordy a break,” Yost said. “And you just can’t. He’s too valuable in what he does on the other side of the ball.”

Thumb’s up for Ventura

Royals starter Yordano Ventura worked out of trouble twice Thursday, but only one involved the White Sox.

Ventura was terrific, surrendering one run and striking out seven in seven innings in the Royals’ 6-2 victory. The run could have been more after the White Sox loaded the bases with none out in the third.

But after surrendering a sacrifice fly, Ventura struck out Alex Ramirez and Jose Abreu.

“I felt confident getting out of that,” Ventura said through interpreter Jeremy Guthrie. “I continued to pound the zone.”

Ventura’s other scare had nothing to do with base runners. After a Ramirez single in the sixth, Ventura experienced some numbness in his right thumb.

“It felt like a falling asleep sensation,” Ventura said. “I was able to shake it off.

Ventura said the feeling lasted two pitches. Yost and the trainers came to the mound to inspect and felt confidence enough to keep Ventura in the game.

“There wasn’t much concern,” Yost said. “When he came in and sat down he said the feeling was back and he was fine. I had an eagle eye on him when he went back out.”

After experienced the numbness, Ventura coaxed a double-play grounder from Abreu to end the sixth and struck out two in the seventh. He was fine and well on his way to improving to 13-10, the most victories by a Royals rookie since Tom Gordon set the team record with 17 in 1989.

It also marked Ventura’s 21st quality start — six innings, three earned runs or fewer — setting a team record for rookies.

Colon on disabled list

Christian Colon has not played for the Royals since breaking the distal tip of his middle finger on Sept. 2. He will not be eligible to play again for at least another five games, and may not return to action this season.

The team placed him on the 15-day disabled list before Wednesday’s game against the White Sox. The stint is retroactive to Sept. 7.

The move is a procedural one. If Colon stays on the disabled list for the duration of the season, the team can add to the playoff roster a player who was not previously eligible, such as reliever Brandon Finnegan or outfielder Carlos Peguero.

Colon impressed in a brief stint as a utility infielder this season. He batted .302 with a .790 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 20 games.

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com.

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