After a winter away from the grind, the business of baseball once again consumes the days of KC Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Winner of five Gold Gloves for his work behind the plate, Perez is busy getting himself, and his pitchers, ready for a regular season that begins in less than a month.
MJ Melendez, Perez's primary backup, has only worked behind the plate so far this spring but will play left field this season when Perez catches. But before they head north for the March 30 opener at Kauffman Stadium, they'll temporarily leave spring training for the World Baseball Classic, where Perez will play for Venezuela and Melendez for Puerto Rico. How long they and other Royals on Classic rosters absent themselves from camp depends on how long their clubs survive; the WBC title game is set for March 21, just a week before the Royals wind up exhibition play against Texas.
The absences of his two top catchers won't leave new Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro in a lurch. That's because he has at least six other backstops available for work. But just who makes up this half-dozen?
A familiar face is in spring training camp and catching for the KC Royals
Royals fans know the name Freddy Fermin. He's been in the Kansas City organization since 2015 when he signed as an international free agent, and made his big league debut in Toronto last season as part of the minor league contingent that replaced 10 Royals whose vaccination status prevented them from playing there. He went hitless in seven at-bats but hit .270 with a .365 OBP and 15 homers in 87 games at Triple-A Omaha.
Fermin was a late-inning replacement for Perez against Seattle Sunday and threw out two Mariners who tried to steal against him. He's expected to make the club as its third catcher.
What other catchers are in camp?