Perez's mother, Yilda, used to toss her son bottlecaps and corn kernels from across the room. Salvador used a broomstick and smacked them around their home in Valencia, Venezuela. He also remembers missing a few, but he never broke a lamp in the living room.
Yilda Perez raised her only child with the help of her mother, Carmen, since he was 4. She recognized his enthusiasm for the game and took him to a baseball school in the industrial hub of Valencia. There, he played with Jose Altuve.
When he was 8, Perez was the catcher for his team that went to tournaments. When he was 12 or 13, his mother heard coaches talk about her son's pro potential. He was just 16 when the Royals signed him.
Salvador has been friends with Pablo Sandoval since he was 13 years old.
In 2006, Perez signed with the Royals (see Transactions below).
In 2009, Baseball America rated Salvador as the 19th-best prospect in the Royals organization. They had him at #20 in the spring of 2010. And moved him up a bit to #17 in the winter before 2011 spring training.
MLB debut (Aug 10, 2011): In his first game, Salvador caught five popups. Unusual, to say the least.
Since STATS, Inc. began recording such statistics in 1974, Perez is only the fourth catcher to snag five or more popups in a game. The others were the Cubs' Keith Moreland, who caught six on June 13, 1982; the White Sox's Jim Essian with five on July 7, 1976; and the Mariners' John Marzano with five on June 11, 1997.
For good measure, Perez also picked off two Rays baserunners in the game.
Greeting Perez, one is immediately struck by his luminous smile—and his right hand. It makes you wonder what happened to your own when he shakes it. Your hand disappears inside his catcher's mitt of flesh and bone.
Very quickly, his eyes large and alive and his in-progress English endearing, Perez calls to mind a Venezuelan star from another era: Andres "The Big Cat" Galarraga.
Salvador always smiles and is always "up." He has a lot of energy, and you may see him get mad on rare occasion. But you won't see him down.
In Venezuela, Salvador played Little League ball with Bruce Rondon.
May 25, 2013: Perez flew to his home in Valencia, Venezuela after learning of the death of his maternal grandmother. He was placed on the three-to-seven day bereavement list.
Salvador has a new sideline—clubhouse reporter for FOX Sports Kansas City. With the TV camera rolling, Perez took the microphone and did a pregame "interview" with pitcher Bruce Chen, who was celebrating his birthday on June 19, 2013.
"Chen, how you feel to get old?" Perez said.
"I don't know," Chen replied. "Every day that I go by is different. Some days it feels a little bit better, sometimes it feels a little more painful. But right now, it feels great to come here and be 36 years old."
"Now wait a second—36 or 42?" Perez asked, thrusting the mike at Chen.
"[Chen laughing] 36. This is my contract year, so it's 36," he said. "Once I sign my contract, I'll go for 42."
And so it went, with Perez's rich voice booming as he alternated between questions and laughter and both players obviously enjoying the moment.
On July 16, 2013, Salvador was the catcher for Mariano Rivera in Mariano's final All-Star Game before retirement.
In October 2013, Perez traveled to Spain as part of the RFEBS Clinic organized for pitchers and catchers.
March 19, 2014: Perez struck Reds closer Aroldis Chapman in the face with a line drive. Reds manager Bryan Price said Chapman was conscious and talking as he was taken off the field during their game against the Royals.
"Not good," Price said. "He left the field on a stretcher, took a line drive just above his left eye is what it looks like—a contusion, a laceration, and certainly needs to be taken to the hospital and checked. We've got Tomas Vera, an assistant trainer, is going to be with him. And then we'll get our updates from there."
The ball caromed into the third base dugout. Medical personnel, including Royals Dr. Vincent Key, rushed the field. Players from both teams huddled around the mound as the 26-year-old Cuban was being attended to and the stadium became silent. An ambulance's siren could be heard in background while Chapman was loaded onto the stretcher.
"I know this isn't as uncommon as we would like it to be, but it was frightening, certainly frightening," Price said.
The game was then called with City leading 6-3.
By age 23, Sal had already been an All-Star and won a Gold Glove Award. No wonder his manager, Ned Yost, rates him among the best catchers in the game.
"He's the total player," Yost said. "He's offensive, he's defensive, he's got leadership skills. I think he's going to be the best. I don't think there's going to be anybody better than he.
"There's only really one that's better for me right now and that's Yadier Molina. There are guys that are good. Posey's like Sal, he's really good and he's won an MVP. He's in the other league and I don't see him enough, but I've always been impressed with Yady. When Sal came up, I saw so many similarities with Yadier Molina's game when he first came up."
A reporter mentioned that Molina, a five-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove Award winner with the Cardinals, sometimes seems to be on another planet. "Sal can be on that planet, too," Yost said. (Kaegel - mlb.com - 4/2/14)
When Salvador is asked which catchers he looked up to as a kid, he doesn't hesitate before answering, and he only needs to name one.
"Molina, Yadier Molina," Perez says. "I watched a lot of video. I wanted to be like him because he's the best in the league. I just try to be like him."
"If you ever watch him play, just how he affects the game every day, it's unbelievable," teammate Alex Gordon said. "I hope a lot of guys try to steal on him, and we'll get to see how good he is back there."
Perhaps the best indication of what Perez means to the Royals is this: When asked which dimension of Perez's game jumps out the most, closer Greg Holland replied, "All of them. He's only what, 24? To be able to call a game like a veteran, it's unbelievable," Holland said. "I take it for granted sometimes. The way he catches, the way he defends with guys on base, throwing guys out, picking guys off, it's unbelievable."
And Perez's personality might mean even more than his physical skills to his teammates.
"He has a real passion to win the game. He loves the game," Holland said. "You see him out there fist pumping and screaming and yelling, it kind of brings that little kid out in you. I think that's what drives him. Just the love of the game drives him to be better each and every day. He doesn't take a pitch off. For me, coming in the ninth inning in close games, I can't really afford for my catcher to take a pitch off. It's a lot of fun, but I think just that passion is the biggest attribute, aside from the natural ability he has."
Despite his youth, Perez said he's tried to take on a greater leadership role for a Royals team that hopes to make a playoff surge in the second half. "I try to be a leader," Perez said. "I'm the catcher, and I have to be a leader for the pitcher, talking. I want to be the leader on this team one day." (Swieca - mlb.com - 7/14/14)
Perez wears women’s perfume for every game. One day, shortstop Alcides Escobar—who said he wore it for good luck—sprayed some on Perez’s jersey and told him he would get four hits. The prophecy came true, Perez said, so he ordered a dozen boxes. His preferred brands are Victoria’s Secret and 212 VIP.
Umpires, he said, are grateful.
“You smell good, my friend, thank you,” they tell him, according to Perez. “We sweat, stink, you know. We need to put on something—just on the field. A lot different off the field.”
Salvador continues to burnish his reputation as the best defensive catcher in baseball not named Yadier Molina. Perez has soft hands, a strong, accurate arm and an agility that belies his 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame.
Perez also plays the game with a rare exuberance, bouncing up after foul tips and responding to the success of his pitchers with body language that reflects his emotional investment in their performance.
“He’s like a little kid in a gorilla body,” teammate Alex Gordon said. “He’s huge, but he’s the nicest guy. He’s always joking around and having fun. With as much negative attention as we get for failing in this game, it’s nice to have that kind of personality out there when you’re doing well or not doing well.”
2014: Perez is known for rarely taking a day off. During the previous two off-seasons, he played in a total of 63 Venezuelan Winter League games for Tiburones de la Guaira.
"There were times last year and the year before when we'd play a 162-game season, and he'd want to go straight to Venezuela and play baseball there," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Perez during the World Series. "It was like, 'You need to take a break.'"
But that's not Perez. Despite establishing himself as one of the best defensive catchers in the Majors, the 24-year-old doesn't want to take his foot off the pedal.
"I just like playing baseball," he said. "It's what I love. Every time I put on the uniform, I'm going to go out and give 100 percent."
March 27, 2015: The Lawrence, Kansas public library held an edible books festival featuring public submissions of edible works of art based on a book. One submission featured the book Catcher in the Rye with a cutout of Salvador in a bag of a loaf of rye bread.
Esquire Magazine: What it's like playing the toughest position in the game?
"I got a short story about when I started catching," Perez said. "I was always playing third base and shortstop and this scout from KC, who signed me, told me to throw from home plate to second base. I still don't know why he told me that, but after I did that, he says hit, and he came back and said I want to sign you.
"So they put me at catcher and I was happy to have a job. After that, it was just working, working, working—every day. That's what I do. Working hard every day, trying to work hard and listen to my coach. That's why I'm a little bit good behind home plate.
June 6, 2015: "Royals fan dressed as Pope catches Perez's home run."
Historically, royalty and Catholic religious leaders have had pretty close ties, which it's why it's not that surprising that the Pope was at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday. OK, a pope. Sure, these Royals are from Missouri and not, say, France, but that doesn't mean they can't have a pope of their own.
And, since all pontiffs (especially this one) are infallible, it's no surprise that he caught Salvador Perez's ninth-inning homer. You could even call it a miracle. (G. Kaneko - MLB.com June 6, 2015)
Perez was selected to start in the 2015 All-Star Game.
Plenty of camaraderie exists between players who hail from the same country, but in the case of Jose Altuve and Salvador Perez, their Venezuelan mutual admiration society began long before they were Major Leaguers.
The two played together as youngsters, when they were around 11 or 12 years old. Their travel team took them to other countries, where they represented Venezuela with as much pride as they do as adults and professional athletes today. Perez said Altuve was superior even way back when.
"He played," Perez said. "Leadoff, he threw hard, he stole bases, made some plays. Always. Whatever [he's] doing here [in the big leagues] —nothing is a surprise to me. I know where he comes from and I know what he's about."
Altuve remembers his youth baseball days a little differently.
"I was on the bench," he deadpanned. "I played second when we were winning by 10 or losing by 10."
And his memories of Perez?
"All I remember is he played first base because our manager said he couldn't catch," Altuve said. Looks like things have changed.
Asked if Altuve ever got picked on for his small stature, Perez shook his head with an emphatic no.
"He was better than everybody on the team," he said. "Nobody could say anything. "I'm 6-4, and he's like 5-1. And he's way better than me." (Alyson Footer / MLB.com)
2016 Spring Training: The 2015 season would have been difficult for Salvador to forget no matter what, but thanks to a new tattoo, he never will.
He now has the Royals' World Series Championship logo inked on his body to match the Series MVP tattoo he got after the Royals beat the Mets. (Joe Rodgers - Sporting News - March 2016)
Salvy had an immediate use for his reworked contract that was signed on March 1, 2016. Perez, who signed a $52.5 million extension, confirmed that he is donating $1 million to Kansas City's Urban Youth Academy. And a baseball field will be named after Perez.
A million-dollar donation is quite a gift. But Perez said it will be well worth it.
"But when it's something you really want to do," Perez said, "and see how many happy faces you're going to make, you don't see the million dollars. You see something different." (Flanagan - MLB.com - 3/2/16)
July 3, 2016: The Phillie Phanatic is a landmark of the game of baseball, doing all sorts of silly, zany things on the field. Just this season, he's beaten Jose Bautista in a fitness battle, arrested Jose Fernandez after the Marlins' ace stole his keys, and brought a visiting team's broadcast crew some ice cream.
Salvador is also a treasure, whether bear-hugging umpires or making quick-reaction catches on foul ball ricochets look easy.
The matchup between the Royals and Phillies, therefore, facilitated some silly shenanigans at Citizens Bank Park, one that involved the two of them exchanging flexes. And, later, Perez trying to douse the Phanatic with a water bottle and the Phanatic retaliating with a bucket of glitter. Good thing for Salvy he was given the afternoon off, since that glitter bomb would have been a hassle to clean off his jersey in time for the game. (A Garro - MLB.com - July 3, 2016)
Katie Strang, a writer for ESPN.com, talked with Salvador about catching in extremely hot weather, with on-field temperatures over 100 degrees—even 110+ degree heat! And Kansas City has some of the most swampy, oppressive heat in the U.S.
"The first time I caught a really hot game I was thinking, 'Am I gonna die today?' Seriously, after six innings, you start to feel like...." Perez said, doing his best slack-jawed, bone-tired expression.
"I think it’s one of those things that people don't realize. After we play, even after each inning, we feel it [even] more in the dugout," Perez said. "We get a cold towel, put it on our legs, we put cold water [on our neck]. I change the jersey, like, four times during the game—inside, in the cage, because you have the AC on—so you feel a little better."
A sweat-laden jersey weighs down Perez’s 6-3, 240-pound frame. And that’s on top of the gear he’s already sporting, including a chest protector, shin guards and a mask—all of which feel even heavier on a hot day.
"It weighs more. It’s a little heavy. That’s why we're always changing the jersey," Perez said. "I sweat a lot. All the gear I have, the masks. Sometimes I have to change my mask [during the game], because it stinks a lot."
During a particularly toasty game, he’ll drink up to 10 bottles of water. He’ll mix in Gatorade that’s available between half-innings as well. Sometimes, even that's not enough, so Perez seeks hydration in the form of intravenous fluids before the game to prevent dehydration, though that has been slightly more difficult to accomplish this season compared to previous seasons.
"Last year it was little bit easier to get IVs. It's a new rule, I think," Perez said. "So the medical staff just has to get permission that you really need it, and then guys come down and give it to you. Now, it’s a little harder to get IV."
A source confirmed to ESPN.com that though there has been no official rule change, the league’s medical supervisor did recently clarify, in the form of written guidance to all teams, the situations in which IV hydration is considered the best practice.
Besides the standard sweat and stink, the heat can have other, more serious physical manifestations, such as nausea and muscle cramping. The most taxing part of all, Perez said, is the mental toll it takes on players who are already subject to the rigors of a 162-game schedule.
"I think that’s the hardest part," Perez said. (Katie Strang - ESPN.com - 8/26/2016)
Salvador was scratched from the starting lineup vs. the A's on September 12, 2016, as he was with his girlfriend Gaby Ruiz, who gave birth to their son, Johan Salvador. It is Perez's second son. The oldest is named Salvador, Jr.
Lots of people are nervous holding newborn babies. Given that Salvador is a catcher who has to handle all sorts of breaking balls, that doesn't seem to be a problem for him. Especially when the newborn he's holding is his adorable, bundled-up, new son, Johan. (Clair - MLB.com - 9/12/16)
December 2016: Perez committed to play for Venezuela in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
The bat that Salvador used to hit his go-ahead grand slam in the Royals' 6-4 victory over the Red Sox wasn't even his. The story starts when the Tigers were in town at the end of May. Royals backup catcher Drew Butera picked up Miguel Cabrera's bat after Cabrera hit a long foul ball and handed it back to him at the plate. But as Butera was handing the bat back, he kidded with Cabrera that he really liked the feel and the weight (32 ounces) of it.
"I like to use heavier bats in batting practice," Butera said. "The next day, he sent me over two of his bats, which was pretty nice."
On June 21, 2017, Perez had just ended a 10-game hitting streak the previous day when he decided to try something different and asked Butera if he could use one of Cabrera's bats. Out of the blue, Butera just happened to put one of the bats in Perez's locker before the game.
"It was just in my locker," Perez said, smiling. "I like it. I think I'm going to use it tomorrow, too."
The next thing you know, Perez went 3-for-3 with the first grand slam of his career, which wiped out a 4-2 Boston lead. Afterward, Butera called the bat a "magic stick."
Is Perez afraid he's going to break his new weapon?
"Oh, no, I don't want to break that one," Perez said. "I need to call Miggy and say, 'Hey, you got to send me some more bats, please.'" (Flanagan - mlb.com - 6/21/17)
Dec 7, 2017: As the Royals ponder a possible rebuild in 2018 and beyond, there is one rock solid piece who will be vital: Salvador Perez.
"The truth is," one rival scout said, "the Royals are not the same team when Salvy isn't there. He has a presence on defense and at the plate."
Fans saw that last season. When Perez was sidelined because of an intercostal strain in August, the Royals, who had been in the hunt for an AL Wild Card spot, lost considerable ground and went 6-9 in his absence.
"There's no doubt what kind of impact Salvy has for us," manager Ned Yost said this summer. "His bat is a big part of our lineup. And he can do so many things defensively that help us."
It's indeed true that Perez is a major force in the Royals' lineup. Scouts continue to see him as an ascending player. Perez had won four straight AL Gold Glove Awards before losing out to the Angels' Martin Maldonado this season. But Perez remains one of the top defensive catchers in baseball and, if he remains healthy, likely is a Hall of Fame candidate.
Perez continues to improve at the plate as well. He posted a .792 OPS in 2017, his highest since 2012. He also posted career highs in home runs (27) and RBIs (80). Backup catcher Drew Butera marvels at Perez's skill set.
"You just don't find many catchers who can do all the things he can do offensively and defensively," Butera said this summer. "It's pretty special to watch him every day." Perez's presence especially will be important as the Royals ponder that possible rebuild. Perez likely will move up in the middle of the order and hit perhaps cleanup in the absence of free agents Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo Cain.
"What Salvy has shown is that he can change a game with one swing," Yost noted. "You just never know what you'll get when he is at the plate, and if you're in a close game, opposing pitchers have to be careful with him—one mistake can cost you the game. We've seen that time and time again." (J Flanagan - MLB.com - Dec 7, 2017)
July 2018: Perez was selected to his 6th straight All-Star game.
Salvador and his wife, Maria Gabriela, have two sons, Salvador, Jr. and Johan; and a daughter, Paulina.
Jan. 24, 2020: Perez became a U.S. citizen.
Royals biggest trash talker: The Royals generally are not fond of the trash-talking principle. The closest they come to a trash talker is Perez, who loves to needle teammates, especially pitchers. Closer Ian Kennedy said Perez regularly rolls his eyes when he passes a pitcher in the clubhouse and says, “What a life, man.”
“He loves to joke that we don’t work enough,” Kennedy said. “So that has become his signature phrase, ‘What a life.’ He’s probably right—starters pitch only once every five days.” (MLB.com - apr. 29, 2020)
Dec. 10, 2020: The Royals spent the entire 2019 season without star catcher Salvador Perez due to elbow surgery, but the club’s 30-year-old fan favorite and team leader made his presence felt and produced an undeniable impact in a pandemic-shortened season this summer.
Perez won the American League Comeback Player of the Year as voted on by MLB.com’s 30 beat writers. The honor came one day after he earned All-MLB First Team accolades as the top catcher in the majors.
Spring Training 2021: “A lot has been said [about Salvy], but I don’t think even enough, about what this guy means to this clubhouse, means to this team,” manager Mike Matheny said. “You sense his presence and you sense the lack of it, even in Spring Training on days he’s not in there. There’s just an energy, a life, a passion for the game that he just carries with him in everything he does. You mix that with a very unique talent, and you have something very special.
“When you have your best players who go out of their way to make other players better, you’re amplifying and multiplying what you have inside that room. That’s who Salvador Perez is. That’s, to me, what makes him so special. Those are things that never really make it into the statistics. But they are real, and he does it extremely well.” (Rogers - mlb.com - 3/21/2021)
In the sea of blue that was Royals batting practice at Kauffman Stadium, a pop of red stood out near home plate. One player was wearing a No. 12 jersey with “Brady” on the back, but it wasn’t Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. It was Salvador, making good on a bet he made with his former teammate, Seminole, Fla., native and current Rays outfielder Brett Phillips before Super Bowl LV in February 2021.
The bet was simple: If the Bucs won, Perez would wear a Tampa Bay jersey to batting practice when the Royals and Rays met for their April series at Kauffman Stadium. If the Chiefs won, Brett Phillips would have to wear a Kansas City jersey.
More than two and a half months after the Bucs beat the Chiefs, 31-9, there was Perez on the field—in a jersey that Phillips bought for him. “I just went and bought a Tom Brady jersey because I know Patrick Mahomes is part-owner of the Royals,” Phillips said. “I hope he sees the photo of Salvy wearing a Tom Brady jersey. That's just pure comedy right there. But it's all fun and games. I love Salvador Perez. I can't say enough about the man. Everything that's come his way is more than deserving.”
After the Rays got to Kauffman Stadium, Phillips ran out of the visitors' dugout to see Perez waiting in red and bent over laughing, going up to him for a hug with a football in hand. After the obligatory photo was taken, Phillips handed Perez the football. Perez does have a good arm, after all. “A little Tom Brady-to-Brett Phillips action for a touchdown,” Phillips said. “Celebrated on their own home turf. Wow, glorious.”
“I can't say enough about Salvador Perez as a person, as a teammate,” Phillips said. “Man, he is just one of those guys that I'll be praising the rest of my life. He's an awesome teammate. I wish him nothing but the best. He took the bet like a champ, and he's a man of his word out there and wearing the Tom Brady jersey. So it was a sight to see and a sight for sore eyes, no doubt.” (Rogers - mlb.com - 4/19/2021)
April 26, 2021: Salvador played his 1,000th career game in the Majors. All 1,000 games have been with the Royals, and he became the 13th player in franchise history to reach that milestone.
“The longevity in this game amazes me,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “What guys have to endure, and then take that to another level in my mind when it comes to that position. I still see him as a young player, only because I believe he’s got a lot ahead of him. I was able to congratulate him this morning, and I know it means a lot to every one of our guys.” (Rogers - mlb.com)
July 2021: Perez was chosen the starting catcher for the AL in the MLB All-Star Game. Perez will be making his seventh All-Star appearance, and sixth start, as the AL catcher on July 13 at Coors Field.
July 13, 2021: Both Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield have been to All-Star Games before, but the experience never gets old for the two Royals veterans. Perez was the starting catcher for the American League All-Stars, and Merrifield pinch-hit and took over second base in the sixth inning of the AL’s 5-2 win at Coors Field, the league's eighth straight victory in the event.
“That was unbelievable,” Perez said after he exited the game. “One of the best lineups I’ve been in in the All-Star Game. It’s good. I’m so happy to be here, and I thank God for the opportunity.”
Perez was part of history by catching Angels star Shohei Ohtani, who started for the American League and also hit leadoff after participating in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday night. Ohtani earned the win after he threw a scoreless first inning to Perez, who made sure to give the Japanese right-hander a big fist bump as they were walking off the mound.
“It’s better to catch him rather than face him,” Perez said with a laugh. “He’s one of the best players in the league right now. You guys see what he’s doing. Hits homers, he’s going to steal bases, the way he pitches—slider, curveball, split-finger. And everything for strikes. It’s like a dream for me to catch him. Hopefully we’ve got more opportunities in the All-Star Game to do that.”
Ohtani showed off his power arm and threw a clean first inning, seeing his fastball top out at 100.2 mph and regularly hitting 99 mph. Perez was ready for them all.
“The way he warmed up and got ready for the game, he was so easy,” Perez said. “But in the game, it was a 100 mph fastball, 99 mph. It’s like, ‘Wow. He’s pretty good.'”
Perez hit seventh in the stacked AL lineup and struck out both times he came to the plate, once against Milwaukee right-hander Corbin Burnes and once against Rockies righty Germán Márquez, a fellow Venezuelan. Perez avoided a ball over his head and jokingly exchanged words with the pitcher, asking to get a few more balls over the plate—and both had huge smiles on their faces.
“I have a ton of respect for Salvador, what he’s done in his career,” Márquez said after he left the game. “And just being from Venezuela, I wanted him to feel that support that he had from Venezuelan guys during the Home Run Derby.”
Merrifield was part of a quirky play in the bottom of the ninth inning when White Sox closer Liam Hendriks spiked a breaking ball in the dirt past Rays catcher Mike Zunino. The ball bounced quickly off the backstop and into Zunino’s hand, and he threw out Omar Narváez at second base, where Merrifield applied the tag easily. Merrifield helped seal the deal for the AL, handling Trea Turner’s sharp grounder up the middle for the final out of the game.
On the FOX broadcast, Royals vice president of communications and broadcasting Mike Swanson got a special shoutout from Joe Buck because he’s retiring after 43 years in the industry and the last 15 with the Royals. Known as “Swanee” throughout the industry, he earned the prestigious Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence in 2002 and has long been respected around the game. (A Rogers - MLB.com - July 14, 2021)
Aug 2011: The veteran catcher homered twice during a three-hit night in the Royals' 8-4 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. Not only did the night commemorate Perez’s anniversary, the homers were his 28th and 29th of the season (so far). (A Rogers - MLB.com - Aug 11, 2021)
2021 Season: Perez and Guerrero tied for the major-league lead with 48 home runs. Perez led the majors with 121 runs batted in, four more than the Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu. Perez tied the Royals single-season home run record set by Jorge Soler in 2019, and Perez’s 48 homers were also a single-season record for a primary catcher (at least 75% of his games at catcher) in major-league history.
He surpassed the previous record of 45 set by Johnny Bench in 1970. By leading the Majors in both home runs and RBIs, Perez became just the second primary catcher to lead in both, the other having been Bench in 1970 and 1972. Perez batted .273 and his .859 OPS was a career high for a full-length season, as was his .544 slugging percentage (10th-best in MLB).
Perez also tied the record for the most games played in a season by a primary catcher. He played 161 games and caught 124 (MLB-best 120 starts). He also threw out 44% of attempted base stealers this season, the highest percentage of any catcher with at least 375 innings caught. (LYNN WORTHY - OCTOBER 21, 2021)
Nov 18, 2021: A historic season from Salvador Perez has led to a top 10 finish in AL Most Valuable Player voting.
The Royals catcher finished seventh on the ballot cast by voters in the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Two-way star Shohei Ohtani, whom Perez caught to start the All-Star Game in Denver this summer, won the award unanimously, MLB Network announced on Thursday night. Perez received one second-place vote, two third-place votes, three fourth-place votes and six sixth-place votes. (A Rogers - MLB.com - Nov 18, 2021)
Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar had their own good luck charm regarding women’s perfume:
According to the Associated Press via ESPN, Escobar once put perfume on Perez, who proceeded to have a 4-hit game, prompting KC’s catcher to keep using it. His sweet smell was noticed by others, such as when Miguel Cabrera of the Tiger asked where he could obtain Perez’s perfume. (Batoul Hammoud - Jan. 20, 2022)
March 29, 2022: Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals has won this year’s Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, sponsored by the Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity. Phi Delta Theta presents the award annually to a Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the giving character of Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, who was a member of the Fraternity’s Columbia University chapter. The award was first presented in 1955 and is permanently maintained at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.
2006: Perez signed with Royals' scout Juan Indiago, out of Venezuela.
February 27, 2012: Perez and the Royals agreed on a five-year contract that runs through 2016 with club options for each of the following three seasons. The contract guarantees Perez $7 million, but could be worth a total of $26 million for the full eight years if all the options are exercised and all the escalators and performance clauses are achieved.
Perez will receive a guaranteed $750,000 for 2012, $1 million for 2013, $1.5 million for $2014, $1.75 million for 2015, and $2 million for 2016. The option year salaries are $3.75 million in $2017, $5 million in 2018, and $6 million in 2018. The escalators are based on various awards earned during the first five years; and performance bonuses based on games started at catcher in the three option years.
March 1, 2016: Salvador and the Royals agreed on a five-year contract extension, through 2021, and guaranteeing him $52 million over five seasons.
- March 21, 2021: The Royals gave Perez an $82 million, four-year deal — the richest in club history — that will begin after his current contract in 2022. The deal ties Pérez to the only organization for which he's played until at least 2025, plus a club option worth $13.5 million.
|DOB:||5/10/1990||Agent:||Rick Thurman-Beverly Hills. S.C.|
|Birth City:||Valencia, Venezuela|
|Draft:||2006 - Royals - Free agent - Out of Venezuela|
|2019||AL||ROYALS - IL||$11,200.00|
Perez is a solid hitter with solid bat speed. He has a nice righthanded swing to make consistent contact with. He has a fundamentally sound swing. He has great hands, a short stroke and impressive pitch recognition. He is a good two-strike hitter. He makes contact and puts the ball in play.
Salvador has long arms, so his swing is always going to be a little long.
Perez concentrates on making contact and likes to use the middle of the field. That approach figures to produce high averages and good strikeout-walk ratios, but not a whole lot of power.
He took a step forward at the plate when he started making adjustments and stopped swinging at as many bad pitches and pulling off balls. He's still a free swinger, yet he doesn't pile up big strikeout numbers. He doesn't offer a lot of power but can drive balls to the alleys. (Will Lingo-Baseball America-10/06/11) (Editor's note: Not much power? Wrong on that count.)
Salvador rarely draws a walk. So his OBP is low, usually sub .300.
Salvador's manager with the Royals Ned Yost, rates him among the best catchers in the game, even with the bat.
"He could take a few more walks. What happens with good hitters is they have to learn to take their walks," Yost said. "When you're swinging at pitchers' pitches in situations, you're not helping yourself, you're not helping your team. But if you're staying in your approach and hitting your pitches, you're going to be far more successful, you're going to be on base more. And any time you get on base more, there's an opportunity to score a run. You can't score a run when you swing at a ball and make an out."
"It's just plate discipline, he'll grow into it," Yost said. "You can't just sit a guy down and say, 'I want you to take more walks.' They have to learn how to do it. And they do it through experience and do it through time." (4/2/14)
June 28, 2015: Perez delivered the 500th hit of his career. Perez became the 21st catcher in Major League history to have 500 career hits by the age of 25, according to Baseball-Reference.com. Number 500 also happened to be a home run. Because of that, he put out a request on Twitter for the fan who caught it to return it to him.
June 11, 2017: Perez hit his 100th career home run.
- August 15, 2018: Salvador joined elite company in franchise history when he belted his 20th and 21st home runs of the season, becoming only the fifth Royal ever to hit 20 or more home runs in four straight seasons.
In the first inning, Perez jumped on a 1-0 fastball from Blue Jays righthander Marco Estrada and drilled it into the left-center-field seats. Perez later added another home run off Estrada in the fourth, also on a four-seam fastball.
Perez joins John Mayberry, Steve Balboni, Bo Jackson and Mike Sweeney as the only Royals to hit 20 or more homers four straight years. "It means a lot to me," Perez said. "It means I'm growing and can help the team." (Flanagan - mlb.com)
September 2018: Salvador owns the most home runs ever (17) at Target Field by an opposing player at the Twins' home. Perez now owns a .338 batting average in 240 career at-bats at Target Field. Among visiting players who have at least 200 career plate appearances at the ballpark, that is the third-highest mark in history, trailing only Victor Martinez (.356) and Miguel Cabrera (.340).
In 2018, Perez won his second Silver Slugger Award.
Nov. 2020: Perez’s comeback season included his third Silver Slugger Award in recognition of the American League’s best offensive catcher. After missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, Perez put together arguably the best season of his impressive career. The 30-year-old catcher hit .333 with a .986 OPS that included a .633 slugging percentage—well above his previous career high of .495.
Dec 9, 2020: Perez was named to the All-MLB First Team.
Perez hit 11 home runs and 12 doubles, drove in 32 runs, and posted a .986 OPS in 37 games.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore has often said of Perez, “We are a completely different team with Salvy in the lineup. That has always been the case.”
April 12, 2021: Perez got his 1000th career base hit. He is now the 13th player in Royals history to reach this mark, joining a group that contains players like Billy Butler, Amos Otis, Alex Gordon, and George Brett.
June 18, 2021: Salvador blasted his 170th career home run, which put him in sole possession of fifth place on the Royals' all-time leaderboard for home runs, passing Hal McRae.
July 12, 2021: Perez set an MLB Home Run Derby record for catchers but did not advance past the first round in Denver.
Perez, a seven-time All-Star selection and the AL’s starting catcher, crushed 28 home runs in the first round of the Home Run Derby at Coors Field. He obliterated former teammate Mike Moustakas’ total of 10 from the 2017 contest.
Perez was matched up against defending champion Peter Alonso of the New York Mets in the bracket-style format. Alonso, who won the competition the last time it was held in 2019, set a first-round record with 35 home runs to advance past Perez. (Trinity Audio)
Aug 31, 2021: Royals catcher Salvador Perez was named AL Player of the Week.
Perez went 10-for-28 with an MLB-best six homers and 14 RBIs during the week. He has gone deep in five consecutive games, tying a Royals franchise record. That stretch included a grand slam on back-to-back nights against the Mariners. His home run on Sunday in Seattle was his 38th of the season, setting a new American League single-season record for the most home runs by a player who has played at least 75 percent of his games at catcher.
This is the first time Perez has been named Player of the Week during his 10-year career. He is the first Royal to earn such recognition this season.
Sept. 4, 2021: While Perez hit his two home runs on Saturday out of the DH spot, he's logged 78 percent of his plate appearances in 2021 as a catcher. That made him just the sixth primary catcher in MLB history to hit 40 or home home runs in a season.
Sept. 20, 2021: Johnny Bench‘s single-season home run record for a catcher had stood for 50 years. The Cincinnati Reds legend has now been replaced by Salvador who hit his 46th home run of the year.
September 29, 2021: Salvador hit his 48th home run of the season, tying the Royals’ single-season home run record.
Oct. 3, 2021: Perez finished the season leading the Majors with 121 runs batted in. He also tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the MLB lead with 48 home runs.
2021 AL Silver Slugger Award–Catcher.
While Perez saw increased time as the Royals’ DH in 2021, the veteran still drew 120 starts behind the plate and only missed one game all year, making his offensive output all the more remarkable. He's now a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, the most in Royals history. And Perez set an all-time record for the most homers (48) by a player to make at least 50% of his appearances behind the plate.
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Perez had a career batting average of .269 with 152 home runs and 535 RBI in 3,687 at-bats.
Salvador doesn't have the typical catcher's build, but he is very solid defensively. He sets up well behind the plate, providing a very good target for his pitcher. He has soft hands and does a good job of blocking balls in the dirt.
He is a good catch-and-throw guy, receiving the ball well and handling a pitching staff solidly.
Perez has a very good arm—rated a 65 on the scale. And it plays up because he has a very quick exchange, a quick release, and his throws are very accurate. His pop times (glove-to-glove) are consistently in the 1.8 to 1.9 second range, extremely good.
Salvador has a knack for getting he and his pitcher through an opponent's lineup. He does all the video study and listens to coaches, other catchers and his pitchers. But he is very perceptive at game-calling.
THROWING OUT BASE-STEALERS
In 2008, Salvador threw out 45 percent of runners who tried to steal.
- In 2009, Perez threw out 33 percent of opposing Pioneer base-stealers.
In 2010, he threw out 42 percent of Carolina League base-thieves.
In 2011, he led the Texas League by throwing out 48 percent of base-stealers!
In 2016, Salvador led all MLB catchers (min. 80 starts) with a 48% caught stealing.
Perez's strong arm is made even more effective by his quick release to second base. The average Major League time for a catcher's throw to second base, glove to glove, is 2.0 seconds, according to Royals manager Ned Yost. Perez is regularly clocked at well under that, sometimes as fast as 1.84. That fraction of a second often makes a difference.
Perez does a very good job of calling a game. He is a leader and works well with his pitching staff. He has earned respect from the pitchers for his ability to analyze opposing hitters, manage a game, cover the position and throw.
He puts his work in, preparing for a lineup, knowing what pitches to attack certain hitters with, but he also has a great feel for the game, because the situation changes and he adapts.
On September 6, 2012, Perez picked his fourth runner off base for the season. Those four pickoffs are the most ever in a single season by a Royals catcher. Perez broke previous record of three, by John Buck (2005) and Darrell Porter (1977).
September 28, 2014: Perez, played his 146th game behind the plate. That broke the team record of 145 by Darrell Porter (1978). Perez also became the first Major Leaguer to catch 146 games since 2008, when the Brewers' Jason Kendall and the Dodgers' Russell Martin each caught 149.
A commanding presence at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, Perez is the extreme opposite of the old idea of a short, squat, pepper-pot catcher—Yogi Berra he ain't. Yet his big size belies his quick-responding hands, arms, legs and feet that fill a catcher's every need. His mind is quick, as well.
"He's very intelligent," pitcher Ervin Santana said. "It's the type of talent that's difficult to get, and he's got it. So he's taking advantage of that."
"One, people take for granted his blocking abilities. I don't think anyone here is afraid to throw anything in the dirt on any count with a runner on third base," Bruce Chen said. "And we have some of the nastiest guys with the nastiest stuff, like Greg Holland, James Shields with that changeup, Ervin Santana's slider. These guys won't even think about it twice, about throwing it in the dirt."
Because Perez is so good at stopping errant pitches.
"The thing is, when we have him behind the plate, we're not going to think about—is he going to block it or not?" Santana said. "We just have so much confidence that he'll block it; he does everything it takes to keep the ball in front of him so the runner doesn't advance.
"He's big, but he just gives a good target. I like it because he just puts the glove down and you just feel comfortable to pitch to him. And he's a big guy, but he moves quick for being that big."
"In my opinion, he's the best catcher in the American League," said manager Ned Yost in 2013. "He blocks balls as well as anybody, he calls a great game, he's a great receiver and he controls the running like very few catchers in baseball can control. He's a top-notch defender. He's the best I've ever seen and he's a joy to be around."
PERENNIAL GOLD GLOVER
In 2013, Perez won his first Rawlings Gold Glove. Salvador led AL catchers with 71 assists and stymied 23 base-stealing attempts for 35 percent. Pitchers had a 3.36 ERA when he was behind the plate, and he added the ninth career pickoff of his career.
In 2014, Perez won his second Gold Glove for the AL. And Salvador won his third straight Rawlings Gold Glove for 2015.
In 2016, Perez won his fourth Gold Glove award.
In 2018, Perez won the AL Gold Glove Award for the catcher position for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
He tied a career high by throwing out 48 percent of would-be base-stealers. Perez's average pop time, per Statcast, on attempted steals of third base was 1.53 seconds, third in the AL behind the Yankees' Gary Sanchez (1.48) and the Indians' Roberto Perez (1.49).
Royals GM Dayton Moore says Perez spends much more time on the field than most any player you will see. Practice, repetition . . . Salvy doesn't tire of it, it seems.
"He absolutely loves to play,” Moore said. “But he also is a person who takes responsibility very seriously. He wants to lead. He wants to be there with the pitchers. His energy never wavers. I’ve never been around anyone quite like him."
Manager Ned Yost is impressed with how he cares more about his pitchers than his offense or anything else.
"Unselfishness is really important for a catcher running a pitching staff,” Yost said. “Salvy is unselfish to the point that in time he will learn he’s so good back there he can concentrate more on his hitting.”
One day in August 2016, as Royals manager Ned Yost was sitting in his office gabbing with a couple of reporters, he was asked point blank if Perez was the best defensive catcher in baseball.
Yost didn't hesitate. "Absolutely," Yost said. "But well, wait, I'll say best in the league. That other guy [Yadier] Molina is pretty darn good, too."
But every season since Perez emerged on the scene in 2011, the Royals have seen improvement in his defensive skills, whether it's throwing out runners, picking off runners, blocking wild pitches, you name it. That's the reason that Perez is a four-time All-Star. This season especially has been phenomenal for Perez. His caught-stealing percentage is an off-the-charts 53 percent, best in baseball and a career high.
And most impressively, Perez has improved his pop time—the time it takes after a pitch reaches his mitt to the time it takes to reach a middle infielder's glove—to a consistent 1.73-1.74 seconds. The league average for pop time is anywhere from 1.85-2.00. Lower than 1.85 are considered very good.
"Nobody does that consistently," Yost said. "It's crazy." (J Flanagan - MLB.com - Aug 13, 2016)
The assignment is Best Throwing Arm for a non-pitcher, which is not an easy call with regard to the Royals. Outfielder Alex Gordon, drafted as a third baseman and still possessing an infielder’s arm, is tied with Gerardo Parra for the most outfield assists  since 2010. You don’t post a number like that with just average arm strength or lack of accuracy. Gordon has been clocked at 92.8 mph on throws from the outfield leaving his hand. But during his pitching debut last summer in a blowout loss, Gordon’s heater was clocked in the low 80s.
“I thought I was hitting 88,” he said, “so when I looked up and saw it was 81, it was kind of depressing.”
Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi has all the tools, including a rocket arm. “You don’t see it on every throw,” former Royals third base coach Mike Jirschele once said, “because he doesn’t need it on every throw. But when he is deep in the hole, you see that velocity.”
But the pick here is All-Star catcher Salvador, who showed off his arm in his MLB debut in 2011 in St. Petersburg when he nearly scored a catcher’s hat trick. He picked off a runner at third base, picked off another runner at first base and nearly picked another runner at second base.
Perez’s velocity on throws to second has ranged in average from 82-85 mph since the start of Statcast in 2015. His pop time has mostly ranked among league leaders at around 1.95 seconds [former manager Ned Yost always thought that number should have been lower].
Of course, it will be interesting to see how Perez’s arm reacts once baseball resumes, as he is coming off March 2019 Tommy John surgery. Manager Mike Matheny and catching coach Pedro Grifol said during Spring Training that Perez’s velocity was excellent. Teammates also said this spring that Perez’s velocity looked as prominent as it did before his surgery. (Flanagan - mlb.com - 5/29/2020)
- Salvador is a very slow runner, even for a catcher.
As Perez rose out of a slide on his first stolen base of the 2017 season, he turned toward the Royals' dugout, smiled wide, and waved his arms. The Royals went berserk. So did the fans in Kauffman Stadium watching the Royals' 16-4 victory over the Tigers.
"That was definitely a sight to see," center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. "To see him go there, everybody was shocked." The stolen base was just the third of the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Perez's career, and it came one day after his first triple of the season. (Alexander - mlb.com - 7/20/17)
2008: Salvador missed almost half of the season with a twisted ankle.
March 14-June 22, 2012: Perez was diagnosed with a lateral meniscus tear and required surgery. He was injured while warming up pitcher Jonathan Sanchez prior to an exhibition game that day.
"I was catching Sanchez in the bullpen, and I felt something funny in my knee, but I didn't expect that it was something very dangerous," he said. "But right now they told me that it was way more than I thought it was. It was a pitch inside, so I was trying to move in, and that's when my knee tweaked. My spike got stuck and my knee moved out of place."
The meniscus cushions the knee between the femur and the tibia, and Perez's tear is on the outside. That type of surgery typically requires several weeks' recovery.
August 4-11, 2013: Salvador was on the D.L. with a mild concussion.
March 11, 2017: Venezuela felt the thrill of victory for the first time in Pool D play, but this win hurt, too. Catcher Salvador Perez made a game-saving putout at the plate in the ninth inning against Italy, sending the World Baseball Classic contest into extra innings. Venezuela went on to win, 11-10, but both Perez and reliever Francisco Rodriguez were injured on the play.
According to a Major League Baseball official on site, Perez sustained a left knee injury and has been referred for further diagnostic testing. According to a tweet by Team Venezuela, an MRI revealed no structural damage. But the inflammation forced him to miss the rest of the tournament. (J Sanchez - MLB.com - March 11, 2017)
Aug 3-22, 2017: Perez was on the DL with a right intercostal strain.
March 28-April 24, 2018: Salvador will be out after suffering a Grade 2 tear of the MCL in his left knee.
March 1, 2019: Perez‘s has damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. It was injured during a workout at Spring Training.
March 6, 2019-July 14, 2020: Perez was on the IL after season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Sept 6, 2019: As the season winds down, Perez's rehab continues to progress. Perez began throwing again 10 weeks ago from 45 feet, rocked full catcher's gear hours before the club's series opener at Marlins Park. During batting practice, he performed drills. Perez said his arm feels great and that he'll be ready for Spring Training 2020.
Feb 15, 2020: Perez was examined by his surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache. All indications are that Perez is on schedule to start on Opening Day 2020.
“It was an excellent report,” Matheny said. “Very positive and no restrictions.”
May 13, 2020: Perez said on a Zoom call that he is fully ready to go whenever baseball resumes. The extra healing time needed has already occurred due to the pandemic shutdown.
“The more time I can wait to get back behind home plate, the better I will be,” Perez said. “I don’t know what’s happening right now in baseball. But at the same time, I thank God to have the time to get better.”
A typical day now for Perez, who lives in Miami, is that he starts working with Royals special assignment hitting coach Mike Tosar around 8:00 a.m., then works on catching with bench coach and catching instructor Pedro Grifol. Then, around 2:00 p.m. he returns home to work out with weights.
“I get a lot of help from Mike on hitting,” Perez said. “The more we practice, the better I get. He has pretty good ideas.”
Aug 21-Sept 11, 2020: Perez was on the IL with left eye central serous chorioretinopathy.
April 23, 2022: Royals catcher Salvador Perez exited the 13-7 loss to the Mariners after being hit on the left hand by a 94.1 mph pitch in the seventh inning. X-rays after the game were negative and Perez is considered day to day.
May 10, 2022: Perez was moved from catcher to designated hitter for the Royals' series opener against the Rangers after dealing with right leg discomfort that first popped up when he caught Game 1 of the May 8 doubleheader against the Orioles. He said he felt a cramp in the later innings, and he's been the DH in the three games since then.
May 17-28, 2022: Perez was on the IL with left thumb sprain. The injury in his first at-bat against White Sox starter Dylan Cease in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Perez felt a pull when he swung through a slider down and away. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning after going 1-for-3 with two strikeouts and a single in the fifth.
June 21, 2022: Perez exited in the third inning of the Royals' win over the Angels after aggravating a preexisting thumb issue on a swing. He was previously sidelined for 10 days with a left thumb sprain in May.
June 22, 2022: Perez was on the IL.
June 24-July 29, 2022: Perez had surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament. He is expected to return this 2022 season.
Aug 29, 2022: The reason Perez was able to return so quickly was because of the type of UCL repair Shin has been pioneering in recent years. The procedure includes reinforcing the UCL repair with synthetic tape -- and cuts the time it takes to rehab in half.
Referred to as a UCL repair with internal brace augmentation, this procedure includes the surgeon repairing the UCL as they normally would but then reinforcing that repair with the placement of the tape over the ligament. SutureTape, made by Arthrex, is just over a millimeter in width, yet is incredibly strong. The tape is anchored over the thumb ligament, essentially forming a bridge.
“Once you’re done with the regular sutures that are also secured in the hole in the bone, then you take the two suture tape tails and you bring them back over the ligament, to the metacarpal side,” Shin said. “So you anchor those tails into the bone with another anchor. If you picture it, it’s a ligament with two suture tape tails over it, acting as a seatbelt. It backs up your repair.” (A Rogers - MLB.com - Aug 29, 2022)
- Oct 1, 2022: Perez exited in the seventh inning during the Royals' 7-1 win over the Guardians at Progressive Field because of left thumb soreness on a swing, the same thumb Perez had surgery on earlier this season. The Royals and Perez both classified the exit is as a precaution, and Perez was confident that he would play.