Salvador Perez is one home run shy of a peculiar major league record, and right now the biggest hindrance is his thumb.
The Royals veteran catcher was out of the lineup Saturday with a sore thumb that has plagued him throughout the final month of the season. The season concludes Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
Perez is hopeful to play in the finale, and if he does, he will be chasing history. If he hits one more bomb, he would become the first major-league player to increase his home-run total in each of his first eight seasons. In other words, he has finished ever year with a a new career high in home runs.
“My goal for today was just to sit him and not do anything and maybe just get a little bit of that pain out of there and be ready to go again tomorrow,” said Royals manager Ned Yost, who acknowledged being aware of the record possibility.
Perez hit three home runs in his rookie season in 2011, then 11 in 2012, 13 in 2013, 17 in 2014, 21 in 2015, 22 in 2016 and 27 in 2017. He hit No. 27 this year on Sept. 22 in Detroit, but he’s been unable to surpass the total over the past week.
Jim Thome also increased his home-run total in each of his first seven seasons. Perez would be the first to do it eight straight.
Perez sat out the first week of September with the thumb injury. Since returning, he’s hitting .250 with four home runs in 17 starts.
“It’s sore, but it’s been sore all month,” Yost said. “It’s one of those things that he deals with. Of course, he’s still been very productive through it.”
Whether he homers over the weekend or not, Perez is will finish as the team’s home run leader for the first time in his career. The players second and third on this year’s list — Mike Moustakas (20) and Lucas Duda (13) left in midseason trades. Outfielder Alex Gordon and shortstop Adalberto Mondesi also have 13.