With Salvador Perez out, the Royals can take a closer look at the outfield.
Kansas City’s outfield isn’t a mess, but it is a puzzle. Yes, Andrew Benintendi owns left field, and Michael A. Taylor gets most of the center field time, although Kyle Isbel plays there occasionally.
Right field is another story.
Mike Matheny has used Whit Merrifield in right 31 times this season. Hunter Dozier’s been there 19 times and Isbel 16; Edward Olivares seemed to be taking over the position with errorless play and a .371 average and .421 OBP when a quad strain forced him to the IL in early May.
So, what does all that have to do with Salvador Perez’s thumb injury?
It all comes back to MJ Melendez who, together with his catching and DH duties, has also played right field this season, assignments attributable to the Royals’ not-so-subtle attempts to determine where he can play while Perez remains the primary catcher.
But at least until Perez returns, Melendez will spend most of his time catching, which means Kansas City can take closer looks at their right field candidates.
Especially Olivares, who returns from his Triple-A rehab assignment and plays right field tonight (Twitter link). If given the time in right he was getting before his injury, he might finally establish himself as an everyday player.
It’s an opportunity the club needs to take full advantage of.
The Royals are going to miss Salvador Perez. But his absence gives them some opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.