‘I feel good’: Salvador Perez catches for Royals bullpen, ready to return after season absence

Royals

Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals smiles during player introductions prior to the opening day game between the Chicago White Sox and the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on March 28, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Preparing to return to the major leagues after a one-season absence, Salvador Pérez caught a bullpen session from prospect Brady Singer in the Kansas City Royals’ first spring training workout Wednesday.

Pérez hurt his a ligament in his right elbow during drills in spring training last year, and Los Angeles Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed Tommy John surgery on the six-time All-Star on March 6.

Pérez is now hitting and throwing to bases.

“I’m like 90%, very close to 100 to be able to do anything,” Pérez said. “We’ll see what he says, so I can do some more stuff on the field. I feel good.”

Pérez said it was difficult to watch last year and not play as the Royals skidded to their second straight 100-loss season.

“You start to think too much sometime,” Pérez said. “It’s a good thing I’m back. I’m ready. Hopefully, I can stay healthy for the opening day.”

Approaching his 30th birthday in May, Pérez is a five-time Gold Glove and the 2015 World Series MVP. He has a .266 average with 141 homers and 503 RBIs in eight major league seasons.

“I really don’t need to remind people,” he said. “They already know. They know who I am. They know I love to play baseball. When the light is on, it’s my time.”

Manager Mike Matheny said he’s not ruling out using Pérez at first base at times.

“If they need me for a couple of games, I don’t have any problem to do that,” Pérez said. “I don’t like to think I’m going be the first baseman or DH. I’m the catcher. I prepare myself to catch 162 games, more than that if we’re in the playoffs.”

Pérez hit 27 home runs in both 2017 and 2018, his fourth straight season with at least 21 homers.

“He looks great and ready to go,” Matheny said.

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