The injury history of Royals catcher Salvador Perez
For the first time since the 2010 season, the Royals will play an entire season without catcher Salvador Perez.
The six-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove catcher will have season-ending surgery to repair the damaged ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow of his throwing arm on Wednesday.
The Royals are expected to move forward with the combination of Cam Gallagher and Meibrys Viloria at catcher for the immediate future.
The Royals announced on Friday that Perez would be shut down because of the ligament damage revealed by an MRI. He played in just one spring training game, as the team’s designated hitter.
Perez, 28, traveled to Los Angeles for a second opinion on Tuesday. He was evaluated by surgeon Neal ElAttrache. The Royals said on Tuesday evening that ElAttrache confirmed their initial diagnosis.
“We’ve just been really, really fortunate and blessed to have a guy that’s been back there as long as Salvy has,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said on Saturday. “He just happens to be, if not our best player, one of our best players and one of the best players in baseball.
“I feel bad for him, obviously, I feel bad for our fans, our team. But it’s part of the game. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. It’s just the way it is. The exciting thing is it’s going to give other people, potentially, an opportunity to play. We’ll see what they do with it.”
The club’s cleanup hitter in 76 games last season, Perez hit 27 home runs and had 80 RBIs while batting .235 with a .274 on-base percentage and a .439 slugging percentage.
He started 96 games behind the plate and became just the seventh major-leaguer to commit no errors in 96 starts or more since 1913. Perez also threw out 24 base-stealers in 51 chances, and recorded three pickoffs on his way to his fifth Gold Glove in six seasons.
Last season put Perez in an exclusive group of catchers with at least five Gold Gloves. He joined Ivan Rodríguez (13), Johnny Bench (10), Yadier Molina (9), Bob Boone (7), Jim Sundberg (6) and Bill Freehan (5).
“I’ve got nothing that I want to see him get better at,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of Perez at the onset of camp. “You know why? Because I know he’s going to get better at everything because he works his tail off. He sets an example as a worker everyday to our young catchers.
“You haven’t seen it yet, but you’ve probably heard about it. We got a really nice crop of young catchers, really nice. And to have somebody with his work ethic and his accomplishments setting the bar and leading the way is really a great advantage for us.”