Trio of Royals — Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar and Jeremy Guthrie — extend season pushed to Game 7 limit by playing in Japan

Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez and Jeremy Guthrie started for the Royals in Game 7 of the World Series, taking their 2014 season — we thought — as far as it could go.

All three bore heavy workloads prior to that final game. Perez, most notably, made an astonishing 158 starts at catcher in 2014, postseason included — a major league record, according to STATS LLC.

Perez, 24, did not take a game off after Aug. 23. At a time of year when fatigue can be a formidable adversary, Perez started the Royals’ final 49 games, all but one behind the plate. During that span, he departed before the final out only three times and caught 425 of a possible 445 innings. So, yes, Perez earned his paycheck.

Escobar and Guthrie did, too. Escobar was one of only four major leaguers to play 162 games this season, and he did so at shortstop — the most demanding position on the field, other than the one Perez plays. Escobar, in fact, became the first man to start 162 games at shortstop since Jimmy Rollins in 2007, the year Rollins was named National League MVP.

Guthrie, meanwhile, turned in the fifth 200-inning season of his career — and added 13-1/3 more in his first postseason.

So when you turned off the television after Madison Bumgarner dashed the Royals’ dreams two Wednesdays ago, you might’ve assumed that Escobar, Perez and Guthrie were spent — physically and emotionally — and very much ready for the offseason.

Well, they weren’t. They’re still playing — in Japan — as representatives of Major League Baseball in this month’s All-Star Series against the Japanese national team. A fourth Royal is with them: catcher Erik Kratz, who was on the Royals’ roster for every postseason round but never entered a game . . . because of Perez’s remarkable durability.

Players are paid to participate in the Japan All-Star Series, with the potential of additional prize money, but let it be known: You don’t go through six weeks of spring training, travel around the country for the next seven months, get to within one swing of your dream in Game 7 of the World Series, then about one week later fly halfway around the world for an exhibition series if you don’t love the game. These guys love the game.