Salvador Perez nodded his head and looked into his trainer’s eyes. His words were inaudible, but his eyes appeared to send a message.
It was the bottom of the fifth inning here on Friday night, and Perez had just absorbed a blow to the side of the head from the elongated follow-through of Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton. Perez went down in a heap behind the plate. He winced in pain. He held his head.
Moments later, Royals trainer Nick Kenney was there, administering a quick, on-field concussion test to Perez, the Royals’ fourth-year catcher. Kenney cradled Perez by the ears and held one finger in front of his face. As Royals manager Ned Yost stood a few feet away, Perez’s eyes followed the finger, moving left, then right.
Perez passed the test and stayed in the game, but it was a scary moment for the Royals, who had little margin for error in another thriller in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. Last August, Perez had suffered a concussion after taking a foul tip off the mask during a game against the New York Mets. He was placed on the seven-day disabled list, reserved for head injuries, and returned a week later.
If Perez had been deemed to have a concussion Friday, he could have been forced to the seven-day disabled list and risked missing the rest of the Royals’ series. Game 3 is Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
But Perez, who singled in the top of the fifth, didn’t show any noticeable ill effects from the headshot. He helped starter Yordano Ventura survive through the seventh inning and remained sharp behind the plate. He had a chance to give the Royals the lead in the top of the ninth, with runners on first and second and two outs, but he grounded into a force at third.
The injury, though, was another concern, the latest bit of wear and tear for Perez, who started a career-high 143 games at catcher during his fourth season in the big leagues. During the season’s final months, the fatigue factor has perhaps had an adverse effect on Perez’s offense; he batted just .235 with a .240 on-base percentage during September.
But Yost has remained steadfast, rationing Perez’s rest to the thinnest of scraps. For another night, Perez held up. Even after the injury scare.