What to know about Perez’s elbow injury

March 2nd, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The injury situation obviously is weighing on all Royals fans’ minds.

An MRI on Thursday showed that Perez has damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow and may require season-ending surgery. Perez will get a second opinion from noted specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday.

With all that in mind, here are five things you need to know about the Perez situation:

1) Nick Kenney has indicated that no recommendation has been made for surgery for Perez, and the Royals will wait for a second opinion to make a final decision. Obviously, however, season-ending surgery is looming. Perez has said he is holding out some hope that he can play through it, but how realistic, or advisable, would that be?

Answer: Royals general manager Dayton Moore said, “It’s happened before where you get another MRI and another doctor sees it [and says you don’t need surgery]. ... What we know is he’s not going to play today or tomorrow or five days from now. We’ll see.

“Look, he’s got a career. We have him under contract for two more years [after this year]. He’s a big part of our team now but also is a part of our future. We don’t want to create more issues. ... I wouldn’t recommend [playing in 2019] unless he was close to 100 percent and the medical team said yes and he said yes. You can’t get through 162 games [hurt].”

2) If indeed Perez needs season-ending surgery, would the Royals go outside the organization to replace him or stay internally?

Answer: Moore said, “We’re fortunate to have two young catchers. is someone who can really receive. We feel highly confident with his ability to receive and call a game. We like [Meibrys] Viloria [as a backup] who can be offensive-oriented but also can really throw. He’s got a lot of fire, lot of toughness. There’s no doubt in our minds that he would do very well in the Major Leagues from a mental standpoint.

“It’s always possible [to sign a veteran]. But we’ll see how camp unfolds. We were pursuing catching depth all offseason. It’s hard to get a third or fourth-type catcher, or a backup catcher for the Kansas City Royals because they see Salvador Perez and know they won’t get the opportunity to establish themselves. That equation has changed but guys [veterans] already are in other camps.”

3) The Royals already have been linked to former Gold Glove catcher Martin Maldonado, who remains a free agent. Is Maldonado a possibility to replace Perez?

Answer: Moore said, “You have to ask what are [free agents] going to bring you over what you already have. Like I said, we feel really confident about Viloria and Gallagher.”

Moore said he was leaning towards staying internal.

“I would say so,” Moore said.

4) Naturally, fans want to know if Perez is indeed out for the year, does that mean prospect MJ Melendez (Royals’ No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline) will get an opportunity.

Answer: Moore said, “I don’t anticipate us rushing guys like [MJ] Melendez. That’s a natural question someone might have. We’ll play that out and see where we are in July or August.”

5) If Perez does have TJ surgery, what is the recovery time?

From trainer Nick Kenney: “If you’re looking at a position player who has similarities to a pitcher, you can’t get any closer than a catcher, who actually has a higher volume of throws. But, of course, the intensity of those throws isn’t like a pitcher. There is a chance that the timeline [of recovery] can be shortened a little but you’re still going to take care of the player.”

The Royals usually take the cautious side with pitchers having TJ surgery and count on about 14 months before a return to the Majors. Former Orioles catcher Matt Wieters was back in the big leagues in exactly 12 months when he had TJ surgery in 2014. That means Perez, in theory, could be ready for the 2020 season opener if he had the surgery this week.