All of the players at the Royals FanFest were thrilled about the new pitchers the team acquired in the offseason.
Not surprisingly, catcher Salvador Perez was among the most anxious to take the field.
“I’m excited for spring training and to catch the new guys for the whole season,” Perez said.
No doubt Royals fans are excited to see Perez for a whole season, too. A knee injury kept Perez out of action the first two months last season, but he returned to hit .301/.328/.471 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs in 76 games.
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Perez will be featured at 9 tonight in MLB Network’s “Top 10 Right Now: Catchers.” MLB Network said it has determined its rankings of the top 10 catchers using “The Shredder,” which uses statistical analysis to measure performance.
Also, author Bill James and MLB Network analyst Dave Valle will give their own personal lists of the top 10 catchers in baseball.
It’s no surprise Perez, 22, is on the list. He has hit .311/.339/.471 in 115 games over parts of two seasons. He has a cannon arm, and looks like a star in the making.
He’s glad to see a different side of Ervin Santana, James Shields and Wade Davis.
“We’ve faced Santana, we’ve faced Shields,” Perez said. “We’ve hit them, but not behind the plate catching. That’s the difference. They’ve got really good stuff, good change-up, fastball, slider. Shields, Davis, a pretty good sinker, Santana throws his down. I’m excited for that.”
In December, Shields said he was always impressed with Perez’s energy level.
“We’d be sitting in the dugout across the way, and he’s got so much emotion,” Shields said then. “He’s into every single pitch. (Luke) Hochevar would strike a guy out and he’s fist-pumping. He’s into every single pitch. It’s amazing. You can just see the passion, the passion he has for the game. Obviously, he’s a talent, but besides the talent, the passion this kid has is amazing.”
Perez said: “I talked to him about that. He likes that. He knows if he’s sometimes down, he wants somebody to go say, ‘C’mon, let’s go.’ If he feels bad because someone hits a homer or something, that’s what I’m doing.”
Fans are hopeful that the new Royals won’t need Perez to boost the pitchers’ confidence all that often this year.