Salvador Perez should be ready for Royals' season opener

BY AP • March 15, 2017

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) All-Star catcher Salvador Perez should be ready for Kansas City's season opener after tests showed there was no structural damage to his injured left knee. The Royals, though, are still concerned about his hyperextended left elbow.

Royals manager Ned Yost said Perez would probably be ready to play in a week.

Perez returned to the Royals camp Wednesday after playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. He was injured Saturday in a collision at the plate with his Royals backup, Drew Butera, who was playing for Italy.

Initially, the knee was Perez's main concern, and he had a second MRI on Tuesday. But the test only showed inflammation, not serious damage.

''The MRI came out really, really good,'' Yost said before a game against the Chicago White Sox. ''But what's bothering him more than his knee is his left elbow because he kind of hyperextended his left elbow on the tag, too.

''He's got a little fluid on that, too,'' Yost added. ''That's probably going to delay him a lot more than the knee will cause that's the hand he gets extended on.''

The Royals open the season April 3 in Minnesota.

''You think I'm going to miss opening day,'' Perez said. ''I don't think so.''

A four-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, Perez hit .417 with two home runs, two doubles and eight RBIs in five exhibition games before going to the WBC.

Perez was all smiles and joking with his teammates in the clubhouse Wednesday. He said his knee was ''sore, a little bit.''

''I wasn't scared,'' Perez said when Butera hit him. ''It's not like I had to worry about something because I didn't feel any pop. I didn't feel any pain. He hit right on my bone.''

He said Butera apologized.

''He didn't have to, but he did,'' Perez said. ''He was crying. I told him its part of the game. You play hard. Things happen sometime. For some reason it happened.''

With Italy eliminated, Butera also returned to the Royals' camp and was in the lineup against the White Sox.

''Soon as it happened, I went into their clubhouse and talked to him,'' Butera said. ''He's obviously a great teammate, a great friend. We've talked about it a lot. Thank God the MRI was clean, absolutely.''

Perez and Butera endorse the WBC despite the injury.

''An opportunity to represent your country, you should be doing it,'' Perez said. ''It's something different. It's different playing for Kansas City and playing for my country. I've been in the World Series. I love the World Series. We won the World Series. But (it is) nothing like playing for your country.''