Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez says if he had to do it over again, he’d come back on the same timeline with an injured thumb that allowed him to play three weeks before re-injuring it.
“To help my team to play? Yeah, 100%. Definitely,” Perez said Tuesday in front of his locker in the Royals clubhouse.
Perez returned to the team Monday after having surgery in Los Angeles late last week to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb. He went on the injured list on Friday and is expected to be out about eight weeks.
The thumb led to earlier problems before that. Perez was placed on the IL on May 17 with a grade 2 sprain, but he returned to the roster 11 days later. Perez grinded through to start, wearing a brace to help his thumb but initially experiencing discomfort, as sometimes, he would follow through on his swing with his left hand coming off his bat.
Shortly after, though, Perez became hot at the plate. He hit home runs on consecutive days on June 4-5, then added three two-hit games over the next week.
His progress was halted in Los Angeles, though, as he left a game against the Angels after re-aggravating the thumb injury on a swing. Perez said Tuesday that he initially felt a pop.
“Every time we take that decision (for surgery), it’s going to suck, because we tried to do the last thing we can do to (not) have surgery,” Perez said. “At that point, it was completely torn, so I don’t have any choice.”
The good news, Perez said, is that he believes this procedure will completely fix his thumb issue. His previous hope when coming back was to make it through the rest of 2022 before getting treatment.
“I never think it (re-injury) was going to happen here during the season,” Perez said. “That’s why I tried to play with the brace — I tried to see if I could finish the season.”
Royals manager Mike Matheny said he was happy to have Perez’s presence back with the team after his recent absence following surgery.
“We need that voice. We just don’t have many vocal players. So to just have any voice, a guy that just is talking the game, just pushing and challenging and encouraging is good, let alone having it be the voice of Salvador Perez,” Matheny said. “It’s a powerful voice. That’s basically what leadership is, is having followership, and those guys want to follow him.”
A seven-time All-Star, Perez has had a down season at the plate for his standards, hitting .211 with a .254 on-base percentage and .426 slugging. His triple-slash line last season, to compare, was .273/.316/.544.
Perez said he’d continue working to make it back as quickly as possible, whether throwing or lifting weights when the time was right. He also smiled and agreed when a reporter suggested he was often a quick healer.
“It’s still sad (being out), but I try to not show that to people,” Perez said. “They know how much I love to play and how much I like to be behind home plate.”