The Kansas City Royals had a huge extra-innings win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday (that ran into the opening hour of Wednesday), but it came at a cost.
After drawing a walk in the first inning, Kansas City's star catcher Salvador Perez struck out just a couple of frames later. That normally wouldn't be a major cause for concern, as Perez is known to strike out quite often. It's a part of his power-hitting profile, after all.
This time was different, however, as the 32-year-old appeared to be in some discomfort and was even visited by the Royals' training staff during his at-bat. After finishing the plate appearance, Perez left the ball game and didn't return. The early indications are that his injury is related to something from earlier in the season.
During the contest, it seemed that Perez had aggravated a thumb injury (a sprain) that led to him missing double-digit games in May. That was confirmed postgame, and per Lynn Worthy of The Kansas City Star, Perez said that he's set to undergo an MRI at 11 a.m. local time in California to see what the ruling is on his injury. For the sake of both the Royals and their face of the franchise, they will hope for something minor to be the determination.
The 2022 campaign has been filled with struggles for Perez, as he's slashing .211/.254/.426 this season with a .680 OPS and a wRC+ of just 88. It's a massive step back from where he was last season, when he posted a 127 wRC+ and finished tied for the MLB lead in home runs with 48. He got off to a slow start this spring, and he never quite recovered before suffering his original hand injury just over a month ago.
In the six games following his return from the May thumb sprain, Perez recorded one hit in 25 plate appearances and looked like a player in desperate need of a reset (leading some writers to even argue that he should be shut down for a while). Once he got going again, however, he was on fire. Since that fateful sixth game back and before Tuesday's re-aggravation, Perez was hitting .286 with a .635 SLG and 169 wRC+. He also had five home runs over that same span, doing a ton of damage over a slate of merely a few weeks.
Now, unfortunately, more damage has been done to Perez's hand again. The Royals ended up winning what turned out to be a thriller of an outing without his help beyond the third inning (he was replaced by the recently-reinstated Cam Gallagher), although they're hoping that Perez doesn't miss significant time with yet another setback. A 10-day stint on the Injured List was in the cards last time around; Kansas City will get more official news and potentially decide on a defined direction as Wednesday rolls on.