March 15: Both MRIs conducted on Perez’s knee have come back clean, per MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (Twitter links). Perez will be sidelined for about a week nonetheless, however, due to a hyperextended left elbow that he sustained in the collision. While taking more than a week off of games isn’t ideal, the fact that Perez’s knee is just fine and the minor elbow injury occurred in his non-throwing arm are both positive outcomes from an initially frightening situation.
March 12: In a best-case scenario, Perez will be able to return in a week, general manager Dayton Moore told Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). The Royals will have more information after Perez undergoes a second MRI on Monday, though manager Ned Yost is optimistic.
“He’s going to be OK, we think,” Yost said (via Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star). “He’ll be all right. They checked him out yesterday, Pedro (Grifol, the Royals catching coach) was on the phone most of the night, and so was Nick (Kenney, the Royals’ head trainer), talking to the (Venezuela) GM, talking to the trainers, and talking to Salvy himself.”
Perez “feels much better,” Yost added.
March 11, 10:01pm: The Royals can breathe a sigh of relief: Perez only has inflammation, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link).
7:44pm: Perez has informed the Royals that the injury isn’t severe, per Rivera.
7:28pm: Perez has suffered a left knee injury and will undergo further testing, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB Network.
7:17pm: In what might lead to nightmarish news for the Royals, catcher Salvador Perez departed Saturday’s World Baseball Classic matchup between Venezuela and Italy with a potentially major injury to his left knee. Italy’s catcher, Drew Butera, collided with Perez on a play at the plate, and Perez was then unable to put any weight on his leg. He had to be carried into the clubhouse as a result, reports Marly Rivera of ESPN (Twitter link).
Although Perez and Butera were on opposite sides Saturday, they’re teammates in Kansas City. Butera is the backup to Perez, who has been among the majors’ most durable catchers since 2013, his first full season in the majors. Perez has appeared in between 138 and 150 regular-season games in each of his four full years, and he made the American League All-Star team in all of those campaigns. Along the way, he has helped the Royals to a pair of World Series berths, including a championship in 2015, while slashing a useful .272/.302/.432 with 87 home runs in 2,694 lifetime plate appearances. While Perez is not a well-regarded pitch framer, he has accounted for a catcher-leading 39 Defensive Runs Saved over the past four years. He’s also coming off a year in which he threw out a league-best 48 percent of would-be base-stealers.
Given his track record, it’s likely losing Perez for a significant period of time would cause notable damage to the Royals’ hopes of returning to the playoffs this year after a disappointing 2016. Behind Perez, the club’s top backstop options are three far less accomplished players in Butera, Brayan Pena and Cam Gallagher.