Not to make too much of a big deal out of it, but Salvy’s first action in the field for the KC Royals this spring came at first base.
After filling in at designated hitter in his first two games, Salvador Perez started the KC Royals’ spring training game against the Padres on Monday at first. He went five innings and recorded six putouts, all on the receiving end of ground balls to other fielders and committed no errors. He was then replaced by Ryan McBroom who finished the last four frames at the position.
Obviously, the team will be cautious limiting his throwing as he works his way back into game shape. It is telling though that in his big league career he has only started three games at first and appeared in six during the regular season and yet his initial on-field action this spring was at this position.
Perez has won five Gold Gloves and so his presence, or lack thereof, behind the dish during 2020 will have an impact. It will be interesting to see how much time behind the plate he sees during spring training and how that will carry over once the games count in the standings. If McBroom or Ryan O’Hearn fail to perform well in the next few weeks it could lead to more playing time for Salvy at the corner bag.
A promising note to add to this story is that Cam Gallagher, who started at catcher, went 3-for-3 and drove in three runs and MJ Melendez replaced Jorge Soler at the designated hitter spot and promptly smacked a three-run blast to center field in his only at-bat. If those two players can offer some offense they could give the KC Royals more reasons to give Perez days of rest from behind the plate.
The last two seasons have been rough on Perez as a knee injury delayed his 2018 start and he missed all of 2019 after only one spring training game due to Tommy John surgery. As a senior leader and the remaining big piece of the World Series team in 2015, the Royals have to work hard to keep his bat and leadership on the field this year.
Again, it is just one game and there is plenty of time left before the first game on March 26th, but seeing Salvy in the field again was a welcome sight even if it was at an unfamiliar spot. The KC Royals would be wise to get him as much time there as they can so he can ably man the position in 2020 to save the wear and tear on his body.