AL Central

Kansas City Royals Seek Balance at Backstop After Salvador Perez Injury

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, right, celebrates after the final out against the Detroit Tigers in the 12th inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Monday, July 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

One of only three catchers to sit more than 1000 innings behind the plate in each of the last three seasons, Salvador Perez made a rare trip to the 10-day disabled list prior to the Kansas City Royals doubleheader split on Sunday.

The 2015 World Series MVP suffered a strained intercostal muscle on the right side of his body in last Friday’s loss.

“These things get swollen and full of fluid, and you have to give it some time to get out of there,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “So you can really take a good look at the extent of the injury.”

Perez was hitting .278 with 21 home runs and 65 RBIs in the middle of the lineup prior to injury, while throwing out nearly 30 percent of runners on stolen base attempts. Until Perez returns, the club will experiment with internal options Drew Butera and Cam Gallagher behind the plate.

Butera caught Ian Kennedy on Monday night, who tossed six innings but dropped his eighth game of the season. Butera has assumed the role of back-up catcher for the past three years and caught the final out in the 2015 World Series, but has only started back-to-back games on two different occasions this season prior to Perez’s injury.

“Whether it’s once a week or every day, the same preparation goes into catching,” Butera said.

Gallagher was recalled ahead of Sunday’s doubleheader to replace Perez on the active roster. In 68 games with AAA-affiliate Omaha Storm Chasers, Gallagher hit .294 with five home runs and 34 RBIs, in addition to throwing out 37 percent of baserunners on stolen base attempts.

Making his debut in the first game of the doubleheader, Gallagher caught the entire nightcap in which Jake Junis limited the Seattle Mariners to one-run in eight innings en route to a series split. The former second-round draft pick could find himself patrolling the plate more often in relief work, particularly if the Royals recall more pitchers he has worked with in the minor leagues recently.

“We all have a great relationship and try to help one another,” Butera said. “But at the same time our goal is for us to win.”

With Monday’s loss, the Royals fall to 4-8 in games when Perez has not caught this season. Perez will not be able to return until at least August 15, but his timetable could become more firm later into August given his health and performances on behalf of Butera and Gallagher.

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