In the hours after the Royals’ historic comeback on Saturday afternoon, manager Ned Yost could not enjoy the moment. He returned home in the evening, where his couch awaited, yet he could not stop thinking about catcher Salvador Perez.
As Perez underwent an MRI on Saturday night following a violent collision with Cheslor Cuthbert in the top of the ninth inning of an 8-7 victory, Yost exchanged calls with general manager Dayton Moore and pondered what his lineup would look like come Sunday afternoon.
Relief finally came in the form of a phone call from Royals trainer Nick Kenney. Perez had sustained no structural damage to his left knee, Kenney said. He was expected to miss seven to 10 days with a a deep bruise on hhis left quad that will require some healing time.
“It’s kind of what I was hoping for,” Yost said, sitting in his office on Sunday morning. “I was hoping we didn’t have to put him on the DL.”
The Royals recalled catcher Tony Cruz from Class AAA Omaha, offering a measure of insurance behind Drew Butera as Perez recovers. For now, club officials are hopeful that Perez’s injury will not require a stint on the 15-day disabled list. He will remain on the 25-man roster and the Royals will move forward with 12 pitchers after optioning right-hander Peter Moylan to Omaha on Sunday morning.
Moylan, a 37-year-old veteran, had options remaining after posting a 2.45 ERA in 7 1/3 innings. He had beeen summoned from Omaha earlier this month.
Perez, meanwhile, arrived at Kauffman Stadium at just past 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and headed straight for the trainer’s room. It will be his residence for the next week. He avoided serious injury on Saturday. Now he will work to return to the lineup.
“As soon as Cheslor hit me, I thought it was going to be worse,” Perez said. “But after the MRI, we’re thinking a couple days. I don’t know exactly how many days but I will do my best to get into the lineup.”
Kenney said the Royals would know more after seeing how Perez responds in the next 48 hours.
"He has more quad control today than yesterday," Kenney said. "So we’re more comfortable. The MRI showed no structural damage and no cartilage damage. He’s got a little boney contusion on the knee and that will take a little time, but that’s playable."
The prognosis was another victory after Saturday’s seven-run comeback. One day earlier, Yost had sat inside the dugout and watched Cuthbert plow into Perez as he attempted to catch a foul pop along the third-base line. Cuthbert doled out a blow just above the left knee, spinning Perez to the dirt. Moments later, the reigning World Series MVP was writhing on the ground near the line.
Six days earlier, the Royals had lost Alex Gordon for a month and Mike Moustakas for the season after a collision at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. Gordon had broken a scaphoid bone in his right hand and Moustakas had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Now the Royals’ most indispensable player was in obvious pain.
“When it happened, I thought that was it,” Yost said.
On Sunday, the rest of the clubhouse could breathe a sigh of relief. That included Cuthbert, a 23-year-old who is filling in for Moustakas at third base.
“We couldn’t hear each other,” Cuthbert said of the play. “I should have looked up sooner. (I’m) so glad he’s OK.”
Perez, a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, is batting .277 with seven homers and an 115 OPS-plus in 46 games. He was batting .308 with three homers after catching fire during a three-game series in Minnesota. On a team where defense is paramount, his arm is a constant weapon behind the plate.
For now, the Royals expect Perez to miss a home series against the Tampa Bay Rays, which begins Monday, and a four-game series at Cleveland this weekend. Considering the alternatives, the Royals will be content to wait.
“You don’t want to have to put him on the DL and then he’s ready in eight days and you sit there for another week,” Yost said. “I’m trying to see if we can get past that.”