Other than an evening plane flight to the Northwest, no immediate rest will welcome Salvador Perez when either Kansas City or Cleveland makes the final out of the teams' four-game series sometime Sunday. Instead, and unlike his teammates who'll scatter for a few days' respite from their sad season, cherished KC Royals catcher and captain Perez will head for Seattle and the 2023 All-Star Game.
It will be Perez's eighth trip to baseball's annual Midsummer Classic; he last made the American League club in 2021 and put on a show in his first Home Run Derby before going on to finish a record-setting season.
Because Perez's selection as the Royals' only representative for this year's All-Star Game was so predictable, the choice didn't make eye-popping news when the American and National League rosters were publicly announced shortly after Kansas City beat the Dodgers Sunday to chalk up their first series win since May.
Whether Perez will play in the game remains to be seen. AL manager Dusty Baker (Houston) has two other catchers, starter Jonah Heim of Texas and Baltimore's Adley Rutschman, on his roster, and may choose to use them, and not Perez, behind the plate. But expect Perez to see some action if he doesn't catch—he could pinch-hit or even spell starting designated hitter Shohei Ohtani if Baker decides not to play the Angels' star two-way player the entire game.
And still unclear is whether Perez will participate in Monday's Home Run Derby: he wasn't listed as a participant late Sunday night, but can still join the contest.
What is certain, however, is that barring unforeseen circumstances leading to the replacement of a current AL roster member with a Royal, Perez will be the only Kansas City player on the American League team.
And understandably so.
No other KC Royals player warranted a place on the AL All-Star Game roster
That says it all in a nutshell. Although he's hitting only .153 in his last 10 games and his .253 season average leans a bit to the disappointing side, Perez leads the Royals with 15 home runs, his 75 hits and 40 RBIs are second on the club to Bobby Witt Jr.'s 83 and 42 (Witt's time as an All-Star will come), and his 14 doubles have him tied with MJ Melendez and Nick Pratto for second behind Vinnie Pasquantino's 17.
Those intraclub offensive rankings, Perez's status as one of the game's best catchers and most popular players, and the unfortunate fact that no KC hurler deserves an All-Star berth this season, undoubtedly made Perez filling the Royals' one guaranteed slot on the AL club all but inevitable.
(It's conceivable that a case could have been made for rookie Maikel Garcia who, since his early May callup, has become manager Matt Quatraro's regular third baseman. Garcia went 9-for-12 against the Dodgers over the weekend, including a perfect 4-for-4 against them Sunday, and is hitting .292 with 20 RBIs and 13 steals in 51 games. But making an All-Star team is a tough road to hoe for a rookie, especially one who didn't play at all until the second full month of the season).
So, it's Perez who'll represent the Royals when the AL and NL clubs meet a week from Tuesday at Seattle's T-Mobile Park. He's the right choice.