KC Royals catcher Salvador Perez surprised even himself by showing up for spring training 25 pounds lighter. Will losing weight help Perez hold off his typical second half crash?
Salvador Perez moved to Miami in the off-season, which allowed him to workout with Kansas City Royals teammate Eric Hosmer. The results even shocked Perez, according to Jeffrey Flanagan’s recent report for Fox Sports:
"“I lost a lot of weight,” Perez said. “Twenty-five pounds. It’s a lot. I never would have believed it.”"
Now at 215 pounds down from his more typical 240, Perez also says he’s stronger in his upper body. The question is, what effect will less weight have on his play?
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"“Nah, he doesn’t look that different on the field,” Yost said. “He’s always, for me, been very athletic for a big guy. But [losing weight] will take pressure off his legs.“And [coach] Pedro [Grifol] always tells the catchers to stay quick and stay light. Sal was always a guy who lost weight during the season. But his focus this year was to lose the weight first and then maintain it.”"
Taking pressure off Perez’s legs is good thing. Salvador Perez has regularly performed worse in the second half of the season, perhaps due to an unusually heavy workload. I suppose the Kansas City Royals hope that being lighter will help Perez fight off fatigue.
Let’s just hope that Yost doesn’t take Salvy’s reduced weight as a reason to allow Perez to remain among the MLB leaders in games caught. To me, the ideal situation would be to have Perez move into the designated hitter role with a lefty starter on the mound. That way, Yost could use right handed hitting backup catcher Drew Butera in games where he has a platoon advantage while getting Perez regular rest.
Such a move would make sense because prospective DH Brandon Moss (a left-handed hitter) is almost useless against lefty pitchers.
Another way reduced weight could help is to give Perez the energy to consistently frame pitches. Salvador Perez regularly ranks among the worst catchers in major-league baseball with respect to framing pitches. However, Perez’s performance in this area significantly improves in close games.
Clearly, that data suggests Perez is capable of framing pitches well. But it’s a skill that he seems to neglect in most circumstances.
Kansas City Royals coach Pete Grifol poured over reports detailing more than 20,000 pitches KC hurlers threw the last two seasons. Grifol suggested a little tweak in Perez’s receiving mechanics last season to help his pitch framing. He also told Kansas City Star reporter Rustin Dodd in September that Perez struggles to remain 100% mentally focused to help frame every pitch.
Perez will now have both a full spring training to work on these adjustments. He also will have a lighter body to reduce the wear on his legs.
Hey, who knows? Maybe carrying 25 fewer pounds will also help him beat out a couple more grounders this season. Even better, Perez might be able to make one or two plays with his legs rather than clogging the base-paths like he’s done most of his six year career.
Every little bit helps.