MAY 8: Roberto Perez may be facing a long absence, as a source tells Jason Mackey of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link) that the catcher’s hamstring injury is “very severe.”
MAY 7: The Pirates have placed catcher Roberto Perez on the 10-day injured list due to a left hamstring strain. Catcher Michael Perez’s contract has been selected from Triple-A, to provide the Bucs with more depth in time for the nightcap of a doubleheader with the Reds. To open a 40-man roster spot, left-hander Sam Howard was designated for assignment.
Roberto Perez suffered the injury in Game 1 of the doubleheader, injuring his hamstring while rounding second base in the eighth inning. Perez was in obvious pain as he left the field, and his absence forced a rare “emergency catcher” situation since backup Andrew Knapp had been ejected earlier in the game. This forced Josh VanMeter behind the plate for his first professional game as a catcher, and having an inexperienced backstop surely played a role in the Pirates surrendering seven runs to Cincinnati in the bottom of the eighth.
The 33-year-old Perez signed a one-year, $5MM deal with the Pirates last winter, after the Guardians declined their $7MM club option his services for 2022. Known much more for his defense than his bat over nine MLB seasons, the two-time Gold Glover has also provided a bit of pop for Pittsburgh in the early going — Perez’s two singles in today’s game improved his slash line to .233/.333/.367 (109 wRC+) over 69 plate appearances.
Unfortunately, it now looks like the veteran will miss more than just 10 days, gauging by the apparent severity of his injury. This opens the door for Michael Perez (no relation) to get his first Major League action of the 2022 campaign. The Pirates claimed the 29-year-old Perez off waivers from the Rays in October, and it now appears that Perez and Knapp will handle the catching duties while the elder Perez recovers.
Howard has spent much of the season on the IL with a back sprain, only pitching two innings over three appearances. A pair of IL stints (most notably a six-week absence due to an oblique strain) limited Howard to 45 innings and 54 games in 2021. Control problems have limited Howard’s effectiveness over his 91 career MLB innings with the Rockies and Pirates, as despite a solid 27.2% strikeout rate, Howard also has a 14.1% walk rate and 5.34 ERA.