Pretty much the worst news the Kansas City Royals could hear would be that "Salvador Perez is coming out of the game." However, with catcher Erik Kratz available to come off the bench, the Royals aren't doomed without Perez, who otherwise comes close to being irreplaceable.
Kratz came though with two home runs against the Minnesota Twins on Monday night after Perez came out because of a right knee injury, helping the Royals win 6-4 and increase their first-place lead in the American League Central. Kansas City's 69-55 record is the same as it was in 1985, also the most recent time the Royals made the playoffs and won the World Series.
It's also not often players come off the bench and hit two home runs:
Perez reportedly has a "pinched" patella tendon, though there's no structural damage to the joint, the Kansas City Star quotes Royals manager Ned Yost as saying. It still sounds ominous, mostly because Perez leads the league in innings played among catchers, and has been Kansas City's second- or third-best hitter, after Alex Gordon.
Mostly a backup in Philadelphia and Toronto the past 2 1/2 seasons, Kratz came over from the Blue Jays with pitcher Liam Hendriks just before the trade deadline, and was considered insurance policy for Perez, who started for the AL in the All-Star game.
Kratz's first homer, on a broken bat, came against Anthony Swarzak in the seventh. His second, against Ryan Pressly in the ninth. Hitting two home runs in just his sixth game for the Royals means general manager Dayton Moore's insurance policy has paid off already:
“That’s one of the reasons we got him,” Yost said. “We knew that he had power.”
But did the Royals also know that Kratz is one of Major League Baseball's most foremost turkey bacon advocates?
Beyond breakfast, Kratz says the life of a backup catcher is simple: You've always got to be ready to play, even if it doesn't actually happen for days. From the K.C. Star:
His role is unique. Perez is a fixture in the lineup. His off-days are rare. But Kratz still insists on staying fresh each evening.
“You put your work in before the game as a bench guy to be ready to go in,” Kratz said. “Some people could say ‘Well, Salvy plays every day. So why not take a day off?’ My opinion is: What’s the point of taking the day off if that’s the day you might come in and play.”
The morning after, Yost said it's likely Perez will be OK after a couple of days to rest.
Kratz will be ready for that, too.
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