Salvy fights through vision issue, sees two fly over fence in win

April 20th, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- The only thing blurry about ’s vision Tuesday night was seeing where the ball landed when it went over the wall. 

The Royals’ slugger, moved from catcher to designated hitter because of a recurring left eye blurriness issue that he encountered again Tuesday, crushed two home runs en route to the Royals’ series-opening 4-3 win over the Twins at Kauffman Stadium.

“He just figures out a way to get things done,” manager Mike Matheny said. “It’s impressive to watch. Every time you think he might not be able to do something, he does it. Big day. Needed it. We talked about something being a key to get us going, and he’s a nice key.”

Perez has dealt with the blurriness before -- it first occurred in 2020, when it landed him on the injured list -- and knows how to treat it, so he and the Royals weren’t concerned when it popped up again around four or five days ago. Taking advantage of both Sunday and Monday off, Perez got treatment from an eye specialist, a “super quick” procedure that he said drained his eye of fluid. 

The position switch was strictly precautionary to lessen some of his workload.

“When it happened in 2020, it surprised me,” Perez said. “I got scared a little bit. But now I know how to handle it. I know what I have. … I don’t know where it’s coming from. They told me maybe stress. I don’t know how to describe it. 

“I’m happy, in the big leagues, helping my team to win, got an opportunity to play every day. So I feel pretty good about that. All my family is good. I don’t know where it’s coming from. Nobody in my family has a history of it.”

With treatment, Perez felt good enough to hit Tuesday. And the results showed.

“Kind of,” Perez joked when asked if it was easy to see the ball Tuesday. “No, it’s not easy. I’m just trying to do my job. You guys know me, I like to compete. I don’t like to get out of the lineup.”

After the Twins put two on the board against starter Carlos Hernández, who allowed three runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings, Perez brought the Royals within one with a 373-foot blast into the visitors’ bullpen in the fourth inning.

His second blast was a game-tying home run in the sixth, traveling 388 feet to left-center field. It was Perez’s 14th multi-homer game of his career and the second of his season after he did it last week against the Cardinals. 

Hunter Dozier followed two batters later with the go-ahead home run and his second in as many games, and the bullpen shut the Twins down with some gutsy performances. Amir Garrett picked up his first win as a Royal after tossing a scoreless 1 2/3 innings that included a 13-pitch battle with Ryan Jeffers in the sixth.

“Salvy hit a walk-off on me last year, so I’m glad I’m on his team this time,” Garrett said. “… For how long he’s been in the league, 10-plus years, he’s still working like it’s his first year.”

Perez has four home runs in nine games this season -- all of which have come when he’s the DH -- and seems to be continuing the production he had during his historic 2021 season, when he smashed 48 homers.

This season, that production isn’t surprising anyone.

“Just another day for him,” Dozier said. “We saw that so many times the past couple years. That guy, he’s an animal. One of the best hitters in baseball, so it’s not surprising at all.”

Matheny shuffled the Royals’ lineup around Tuesday, not only to accommodate Perez at DH and slotting in Cam Gallagher as the backup catcher, but also to see if he could spark something in the Royals’ offense, which had averaged around three runs per game entering Tuesday. 

Nicky Lopez moved to the No. 2 spot and went 2-for-3 while drawing a bases-loaded walk. Perez and Dozier went to work in the middle of the lineup. And the three big swings breathed some life into the Royals’ offense during this cold and rainy stretch of games.

“It reinforces just [continuing] to do the things we do well,” Matheny said. “… Keep doing the little things right, and we’ve got the ability to do the big things, too. That’s the kind of team we’re going to be. 

“Every guy in that lineup has power and the ability to do damage, and it’s good to see it, especially after a couple times when we squared balls up and they haven’t gone anywhere.”