Sal Perez makes his return to Kansas City Royals’ lineup Saturday at Minnesota Twins

·2 min read
David Zalubowski/AP

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez makes his return from the injured list and jumps right back into the starting lineup, and cleanup spot in the batting order, in one of the ballparks where he’s enjoyed tremendous success as a hitter.

The Royals activated Perez from the IL and optioned catcher Sebastian Rivero to Double-A Northwest Arkansas before Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Royals and Twins split the first two games of their four-game series.

Perez had been on the 10-day IL since May 17 with a grade 2 left thumb sprain he sustained while batting in the first game of a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.

Perez joined the team on the road in Minnesota ahead of Thursday’s series opener, and he’s been hitting in the batting cage and doing catching drills during pre-game workouts for the past two days.

When approached before Saturday’s game in the clubhouse, Perez proclaimed himself good to go. He’s in the lineup as the designated hitter for his first game back. Rookie MJ Melendez will start at catcher.

Perez said he has no lingering restrictions in the wake of his thumb injury. When asked about being the Royals’ DH on Saturday, he replied, “I’m catching tomorrow. I’ll be behind the home plate tomorrow.”

While the injury occurred to his glove hand, Perez said he hasn’t been bothered while catching and will use a thumb-guard.

Royals manager Mike Matheny confirmed that Perez will likely catch Sunday’s series finale.

“It’s always good to see his face around here and then to see his name in the lineup, no matter where we can put him,” Matheny said. “We’ll get him in there, at least the bat today, and knowing that he’s progressing well, defensively, also is just great news.

“It’s amazing how quick he heals up. The trainers are really happy with how he has progressed. Watching him hit yesterday, he’s in a good place.”

Coming off of a record-setting season for a major-league catcher, Perez has batted .206 with six home runs, 16 RBIs a .239 on-base percentage and .397 slugging percentage in 34 games this spring.

Perez’s 19 home runs at Target Field are more than any other visiting player since the ballpark opened. That’s also the most home runs he’s hit at any park other than Kauffman Stadium.

In 75 career games (72 starts) at Target Field, Perez has slashed .318/.349/.577 with 19 homers, 15 doubles, 55 RBIs and 42 runs scored.

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