Let us play a game. Let us compare two players, just based off an eleven game sample on their batting numbers from this season. Player A, in those eleven games, posted a .154/.244/.154 batting line with four RBIs, five walks and grounded into three double plays. Player B, in his eleven games, posted a .111/.130/.178 batting line with three RBIs, one walk and grounded into four double plays. Player A is Billy Butler after his first eleven games this season, while Player B is Salvador Perez in his last eleven games.
Considering how white hot Perez was offensively at the start of the season, those numbers over the past eleven games may be shocking. However, given that Perez has played in every game for the Royals this season, perhaps that slump should not be surprising. In fact, not only has Perez started every game behind the plate for the Royals, but he has played all but three innings this season. After getting his only at bat of the season in the Royals second game of the year, Brett Hayes completely vanished before making a cameo on Sunday.
We all know that Ned Yost is loyal to his starting catcher, sending him out there day after day after day. After all, this was the person that felt that Jason Kendall was still good enough to play 118 times in 2010, just two years after giving Kendall 151 games behind the dish for the Milwaukee Brewers. Perhaps, as a former backup catcher, Yost feels a special affinity towards those players, and wants to keep them as close to him as possible for as long as he can. Or, perhaps just does not trust that Hayes is capable of doing anything more than playing two innings or so every two weeks.
Regardless of the reason for why the Royals may need to place an APB on Hayes, it is seemingly obvious to everyone other than Yost that Salvador Perez needs a day off. A catcher, no matter how young and how much his bat is needed in the lineup, should not be behind the plate every game. The sheer beating that one takes in that position should be enough to warrant getting a day off here and there, even if Yost himself needs to strap on the shinguards and come out of retirement for a game.
Given how often Perez has been in the lineup, he will likely start today. And he will likely be in the lineup tomorrow, and then for the day game after the night game. And again on Friday and so forth. Eventually, that time behind the plate wears a catcher down, as the assorted minor bumps and bruises become far more plentiful as the season progresses. Already, that wear may be showing on Perez, given his slump over the past week and a half.
Salvador Perez is a key part of the Royals, both offensively and defensively. Yet, they would be better served by potentially losing the fight to win the war. Even though having Perez in the lineup decreases the Royals chances to win that given night, having him healthy and in the lineup during a potential playoff push is far more important that playing Perez every day in April.
Everyone deserves a day off. For Salvador Perez, it is long past due.