JALISCO, Mexico -- Venezuela felt the thrill of victory for the first time in Pool D play on Saturday, but this win hurt, too.Catcher Salvador Perez made a game-saving putout at the plate in the ninth inning against Italy on Saturday, sending the World Baseball Classic contest into extra innings.
JALISCO, Mexico -- Venezuela felt the thrill of victory for the first time in Pool D play on Saturday, but this win hurt, too.
Catcher Salvador Perez made a game-saving putout at the plate in the ninth inning against Italy on Saturday, 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 late Saturday night, an MRI revealed no structural damage. But the inflammation will force the catcher to miss the rest of the tournament.
Venezuela manager Omar Vizquel said Rodriguez has a pulled groin and Perez is headed for X-rays. The pitcher said it was a cramp.
This much is certain: It was one of the strangest plays of the tournament.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
With two outs and runners at first and second, Gavin Cecchini tied the game with a line-drive single to center, scoring pinch-runner Drew Maggi. Perez was in position to tag out Italy's Andrew Butera at home, but he appeared to injure his leg in the collision with his Royals backup backstop. Perez needed to be helped into the clubhouse.
"Well, first of all, Francisco was in the wrong spot," Vizquel said. "He's supposed to be behind the catcher backing him up. We didn't really have a cutoff man there, and the ball just happened to fall into his hands. He bobbled it a little bit. He threw home with everything he can push himself to do it and put a good throw on the catcher that I think Salvador wasn't even expecting. That's why he got caught a little bit of surprise and his feet were crossed over, and I think that's why he got that injury."
It's unclear how Rodriguez was injured; he made a relay toss to Perez, then collapsed to the ground after the throw.
"I went to back to Salvador, and I went back to Francisco, and then back to Salvador," Vizquel said. "It was the weirdest thing. Two guys down at the same time. One guy said he's OK, the other one said, 'I can't walk.' There were a lot of emotions going on that play. The most important thing is that hopefully Francisco is going to be OK, and Salvador also is going to be OK."
Earlier in the ninth inning, Perez connected on a two-run homer to break a tie and put Venezuela up, 10-8. Venezuela reclaimed the lead in the 10th on Martin Prado's RBI double, and then the club hung on for the win, its first in this year's Classic.
"I feel really bad," Butera said. "I thought the ball was going to be in the gap and I was just trying to score. When I saw that I was going to be out by a lot, I just stopped. It was unfortunate that I hit him where I did. Obviously, I wasn't trying to hit him. I hope he is OK."
Royals general manager Dayton Moore confirmed that the team has been in contact with Perez.
"He was in a lot of pain at first," Moore said, "but he said he's feeling much better. But we won't know anything definitively until [Sunday] after the X-rays and imaging is done and examined. We just don't know right now."
The exams and evaluations will be done in Mexico.
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.