Royals might give Sal Perez some playing time at first base

Catcher Sal Perez will have to take something off his throws when he plays first base.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — During batting practice, you’ll often see Royals All-Star catcher Sal Perez taking ground balls at third base, second base — all around the infield, actually.

"Sal really could, if he wanted to, play any position," Royals general manager Dayton Moore has said often. "He has that ability."

Of course, the Royals aren’t about to tinker too much with a good thing — Perez is emerging as one of the elite defensive catchers in baseball.

But the Royals have been considering getting Perez some playing time at first base to save wear and tear on his body.

"We’re always exploring certain options defensively and in our lineup," Moore says.

Perez even started the Royals’ season finale at first base in Chicago last season. He wasn’t tested much — he caught one foul pop-up, dropped another for an error, and caught one infield throw.

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But Perez did get tested regularly in Venezuela in winter ball this off-season, when he played 22 games at first base.

How did he do?

"I made two errors the first (two) games," he says. "I made good catches (on ground balls) near the line, but I throw like a catcher (to the pitcher covering first base). I throw it too hard.

"Someone told me I need to make that throw short and quick. But after that, it was fine.

"But I like playing first base. I like to know another position."

In case you wanted a second opinion of Perez’s skill set at first base, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas played in the same league this winter.

And apparently Perez forgot to mention a few other misplays he made this winter.

"I wouldn’t say he’d be winning a Gold Glove (at first base) or anything," Moustakas said, smiling. "It’s amazing. For as good of a defensive catcher as he is and how amazing he can catch pop-ups and make plays out there, he can’t catch a pop-up to save his life at first base. It’s crazy."

Chances are, Royals fans won’t see a lot of Perez at first base this season. The Royals traded for corner infielder Danny Valencia with the idea that he also would be a better defensive backup for Eric Hosmer than designated hitter Billy Butler.


But Perez is serious about learning first base. He even was quoted in a Spanish newspaper this winter that he eventually would like to catch just "once or twice a week."

Perez said, though, that quote wasn’t completely accurate.

"I love to catch," he says. "If I catch my whole career, I’ll be happy. But if I play against the National League sometimes and (there are switches) I could play first base. That would be OK."

Moore’s main concern is to keep Perez healthy.

"We all know Sal has a lot of energy and he just wants to play baseball," Moore says. "He loves it. The main thing about him playing first base this off-season was to spare him from the wear and tear from catching. He got his at-bats in."

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.