TEMPE, Ariz. -- Royals six-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow next week and miss the entire 2019 season, having received a recommendation of surgery, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported on Thursday night. The Royals have not confirmed the report
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Royals six-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow next week and miss the entire 2019 season, having received a recommendation of surgery, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported on Thursday night. The Royals have not confirmed the report or made any comment on possible surgery.
The Royals said Perez will seek a second opinion from noted specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Both manager Ned Yost and trainer Nick Kenney confirmed after the team’s game against the Angels on Friday that Perez could face Tommy John surgery. That surgery would put Perez out until the 2020 season.
Neither Yost nor Kenney, though, referred to Perez’s injury as a tear or partial tear to the UCL. Both referred to it simply as ligament damage.
Asked if there was any possibility that Perez could play through the injury, as Greg Holland did for the Royals in 2015, Kenney said, “There’s always possibilities like that. You don’t say anything as definitive at this point. That’s why you get a second opinion. ... I don’t really want to speculate. He has ligament damage and we’re weighing all our options to see our next step.”
“Of course, we’re anticipating anything,” Yost said. “We’ll get the second opinion and we’ll see. I’m not jumping the gun on anything.”
Royals general manager Dayton Moore was unavailable for comment.
Replacing Perez, a five-time Gold Glove winner, wouldn’t be easy. The Royals only have two other catchers on the 40-man roster -- Cam Gallagher, who was slated to be Perez’s backup this season, and rookie Meibrys Viloria, who played briefly with the Royals late last season.
One option would be through free agency. Martin Maldonado, who beat out Perez for the Gold Glove in 2017, is still available and would appear a logical acquisition considering his defensive skills.
Heyman reported the Royals have reached out to Maldonado’s camp.
Signs of trouble for Perez actually began to emerge during his offseason workout program in early January when he reported elbow soreness to the Royals. After consulting with Kenney, Perez flew to Kansas City from his home outside Miami for an MRI, which revealed a flexor strain in the right forearm. Flexor strains are sometimes a precursor to eventual ligament damage.
Yost said the Royals shut Perez down for four weeks.
“We weren’t sweating it all that much then,” Yost said. “He ramped up his throwing program when he got here and was feeling fine. Then Wednesday he did his throwing program and felt [soreness] a little bit. We were getting to the point of thinking about extending him out to get him in a game [defensively]. But he felt it a little bit and went home that night and it was sore. Got up the next morning and it was sore.
“We did the MRI. Somewhere between when he started his program here and [Wednesday], he got ligament damage.”
Recovery times for catchers having Tommy John surgery are typically slightly shorter than for pitchers. Matt Wieters had Tommy John surgery in June of 2014 and returned the following June. The Royals usually allow about 14 months for a pitcher to return to the big leagues.
Perez, who missed the start of the 2018 season because of a knee injury that occurred after he slipped down a flight of stairs carrying his luggage, has played only one spring game and that was as the designated hitter.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.