Salvador Perez Getting Action at First Base
By David Hill
Jul 22, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (13) throws out Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Henry Urrutia (not pictured) while trying to steal second in the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Let us hijack Professor Peabody and Sherman’s Wayback Machine and take a brief trek through time. We shall head back, not into the distant past as those two frequently did, but to September 29th of this past year. On that day, Salvador Perez made his first start at first base for the Royals during a 4-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox. While he did not have the greatest defensive game, making an error in his three chances, Ned Yost stated afterwards that Perez playing first would likely be something that would occur during the winter.
And so it has. Playing with the Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League, Perez has seen most of his action at first base. The idea of getting Perez used to first certainly makes sense. Even with collisions at home plate likely being banned by 2014, being a catcher is still a physically demanding position. Being able to find a way to keep Perez’s bat in the lineup, even if he is not catching, just makes sense for the Royals offense.
However, allowing Salvador Perez to play first for the Royals opens up other problems. Aside from Perez, the Royals two best hitters may be Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler, who happen to be the first baseman and the designated hitter. If Perez plays first, where would Hosmer end up? Could the Royals give him another look in right field, where he has played four times in the past two seasons? Or would they look to put Hosmer at designated hitter, where Butler seemingly has his name written in permanent marker?
Eventually, the Royals are likely going to need to move Perez to first base, at least on an occasional basis. The Giants have done so with Buster Posey and the Indians move Carlos Santana to first, among other teams, so this is not just an issue for the Royals. They just need to find a way to keep everyone else in the lineup if Perez does play first.
Salvador Perez does not turn 24 until the first part of next season, so any transitions to first base are unlikely to occur for a few years down the road. Yet, one of the hallmarks of a good franchise is to plan ahead for any eventualities. Should anything happen to Hosmer, or if Perez needs to be moved to first base in a few years, getting him used to the position now can only help his transition.
There may not be anything to see yet about a position change for Salvador Perez, the groundwork may be in place for the future. If nothing else, Perez playing first base means that he is taking less punishment in the Venezuelan Winter League than he normally would be. And that is definitely a good thing.