Royals catcher Salvador Perez had surgery Friday to repair a tear in his left knee and will miss at least three months, an injury that’s left Kansas City looking to get someone as a fill-in.
Manager Ned Yost said ”it’s going to be pretty important” the Royals acquire a catcher with Perez unlikely to return before July 1. Even when he returns, it is doubtful he would be able to catch five or six days a week.
The Royals made a similar move last year to add a veteran catcher, acquiring Matt Treanor from the Texas Rangers at the end of spring training.
”We’re looking to see if we can get it in a situation like we had Treanor last year,” Yost said.
The surgery to fix a torn meniscus was done at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles by Dr. Clarence Shields and team physician Dr. Vincent Key. The doctors said Perez will need 12-14 weeks to recover.
”There’s not another Sal out there that you can get — there’s just not,” Yost said. ”The next-best thing is any semblance of a guy that can catch and throw and can hit a little bit and that can cost you young prospects, and we don’t want to do that.”
”So you either get a guy that can hit like a son of a gun and can’t catch, or you get a guy that can catch like a son of a gun and is at least a good situational hitter and mix in a few hits. I’d rather go that route.”
The 21-year-old Perez hurt his knee while warming up pitcher Jonathan Sanchez prior to a spring training game Tuesday. Perez reported some discomfort and left after the first inning.
Perez hit .331 in 39 games with the Royals last season after a promotion Aug. 10. He signed a five-year, $7 million contract Feb. 27 with a club option for three more years that could be worth $26.75 million if all the performance bonuses are reached.
Brayan Pena, who hit .248 with 14 extra-base hits in 72 games last year, is the only healthy catcher on the 40-man roster. Manny Pina, who appeared in four big league games last year, had right knee surgery on Feb. 27 and is unlikely to return before May.
Non-roster invitee Max Ramirez, who hit .217 in 45 games in 2008 and 2010 with the Rangers, is the only other catcher in camp with major league experience. Cody Clark, who has spent nine years in the minors and the past two with Triple- A Omaha, is considered a good defensive catcher.
”Both of them are viable options,” Yost said.
Another possibility might be free agent Ivan Rodriguez, who has won 13 Gold Gloves. The 40-year-old Rodriguez, hit .218 last year for Washington and was limited to 44 games because of a strained oblique.
General manager Dayton Moore acknowledged there is a sense of urgency to add a catcher soon as possible.
”We need to find some more depth,” Moore said. ”If any organization were to lose two catchers, they’re going to be in the same boat.”