Salvy clubs 28 homers in HR Derby debut

Royals backstop's quest for crown denied by eventual champ Alonso

July 13th, 2021

DENVER -- Royals catcher Salvador Perez put on a show, but he fell just short to Mets slugger and eventual champion Pete Alonso, who put on a record-setting performance in the first round of Monday’s Home Run Derby.

Perez, who came in as the fourth seed because of his 21 first-half homers, finished with 28 homers in the first round, tied for the third-most among the eight participants. Unfortunately for Perez, he was matched up against Alonso, who showed why he’s won back-to-back Derby’s, crushing 35 homers in just 49 swings. 

Alonso admitted that, because of his record in the first round, he didn’t feel anxious when Perez started racking up the homers, calling his number “untouchable.” Perez said seeing Alonso put up that many homers first allowed him to take the pressure off and to just enjoy the moment. 

“I didn’t get discouraged or anything,” Perez said in Spanish. “At that point, I just told myself that I just needed to have fun.”

Perez certainly had fun and he made his presence felt at Coors Field despite his night lasting just one round. 

The seven-time All-Star got off to somewhat of a slow start, hitting nine homers in the first minute and a half. He called his timeout with 1:44 left in his round and huddled up with fellow Venezuelan All-Stars Germán Márquez and Eduardo Escobar, and Brewers pitcher Freddy Peralta.

After the timeout, Perez picked up the pace, launching long home run after long home run. His longest blast Monday was 491 feet and he hit 16 homers over 450 feet. His homers traveled a total distance of 2.36 miles. At one point during the bonus round, Perez hit a homer on six consecutive swings.

“I just tried to reset,” Perez said. “And tried to hit home runs.”

Perez, who tweaked his back over the weekend, said the event wasn’t too physically taxing on his body. He knew he would be able to withstand a full round after taking Derby-like batting practice last weekend. 

The catcher became the fourth Royals player to be featured in the Derby, joining Bo Jackson, Danny Tartabull and former teammate Mike Moustakas. Perez also became the ninth catcher in history to compete in the Derby, with the Yankees' Gary Sánchez having been the most recent in 2017.

It wasn’t enough to dethrone Alonso, but the Royals catcher certainly put on a show.

“That was an awesome experience,” Perez said. “That was something that I’ve always wanted to do and I really enjoyed it.”