CLEVELAND – When Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff sat down to address the media at the end of the Indians’ season, they ran down a list of their injured players, explaining how their offseasons would go.
Guys like José Ramírez (right hamate bone) and Tyler Naquin (torn ACL) were at the top of the list, but the one name that came as more of a surprise was catcher Roberto Pérez. Antonetti said the backstop was in the process of getting his ankle checked to see if he’d need a minor procedure. As it turns out, he did.
On Thursday, the Indians announced that Pérez underwent successful arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle. The procedure was performed by Dr. Roberto Anderson in Green Bay, Wis., and the Indians expect their catcher to be ready for unrestricted baseball activity at the start of Spring Training.
Pérez had been described as “banged up” for much of the season. In the 30-year-old’s first year in a starting role, he played 119 games and launched a career-high 24 homers, while slashing .239/.321/.452.
“Like I said, I'm banged up, I think everyone knows that,” Pérez said halfway through September. “But like I said, I want to keep playing. … I'm just blessed to be here and get the opportunity to play every day. I'm not taking it for granted, I'm just taking advantage of it.”
Just after the All-Star break, Pérez noticed pain in his ankle and slipped into an 0-for-20 funk. But any time he was asked about how the injury was affecting his game, Pérez would respond by saying that it wasn’t an excuse.
“You don’t self proclaim yourself as a leader,” Indians manager Terry Francona said in August. “Those are the guys that aren’t the leaders. It’s the guys that grow by playing the game right, by playing beat up like Berto is -- showing up everyday, doing it right, speaking up at the right time, not the wrong time.
Despite every bump and bruise, Pérez walked away from his 2019 campaign as the only catcher to play more than 100 games without allowing a passed ball -- part of a strong case for a Gold Glove Award.
“He’s winning it,” teammate Francisco Lindor said. “If he doesn’t win the Gold Glove, then there’s something wrong with the system. And I know the system’s not wrong, so Pérez will win it.”