All-Star Salvy ready to make Derby history

July 3rd, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- A catcher has never won the Home Run Derby, and wants to be the first.

The veteran Royals catcher will look to become the first backstop and Royals player to win the Home Run Derby after he announced on Friday that he’ll be at the star-studded event at Coors Field on July 12.

“Super excited,” Perez said after the announcement. “It’s my first time and something I have wanted to do before my career is over. I got an opportunity, and I’m so excited. So happy, and I thank God for everything that’s happened to me.”

It'll be a busy couple of days in Denver for Perez, who also won the vote to be the American League's starting catcher for the sixth time in his career on Thursday. It's his seventh All-Star selection, which is second most in Royals history to George Brett's 13.

Perez will have his work cut out for him in the Derby, needing to best a loaded field that includes Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani, reigning champion Pete Alonso of the Mets, Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini and Rockies shortstop Trevor Story.

At the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami, Perez remembers watching Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, among others, go toe-to-toe and knew he wanted to try the event someday -- and try to win it.

“They hit some bombs,” Perez said. “I told myself if I had an opportunity to be in a Home Run Derby, it’s something fun and something that I want to check off on my list. I’m happy to be there. I’m going to compete and try to do my best. It’s not just about to go, it’s about to win, too.”

The 31-year-old Perez is the fourth Royals player to participate in the Derby, joining Bo Jackson (1989), Danny Tartabull ('91) and Mike Moustakas (2017). He'll also be just the eighth catcher to try to etch his name on the trophy. The other catchers to take part were Carlton Fisk (1985, White Sox), Ozzie Virgil Jr. (1987, Braves), Mickey Tettleton (1989, Tigers), Mike Piazza (1993, '94, Dodgers), Javy López (Braves, 1998), Ivan Rodriguez (2000, Rangers; '05, Tigers) and Gary Sánchez (2017, Yankees).

Perez, who has played just one game at Coors Field, leads Kansas City with 19 homers while slashing .278/.306/.508. He has 171 career blasts, which ranks fifth in Royals history. After missing the entire 2019 season with Tommy John surgery, Perez is hitting .296 with a .870 OPS in 117 games across the past two seasons, and those who watch him take batting practice every day are excited to see what he does when he steps on the field in Denver.

“Nothing that Salvy does surprises me,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “He works so hard, cares so deeply about playing this game. He called me a couple weeks ago and talked about doing this, and I think it’s great. If he wants to do it, it’s great. It’s going to be fun.”