So much for Salvador Perez only missing a few weeks.
Perez underwent his scheduled knee surgery today and the Royals announced afterward that he’s expected to be out for 12-14 weeks, which would mean a mid-June return at the earliest.
In other words, there’s a strong chance the 21-year-old catcher will miss the entire first half of the season, which is an awfully tough break so soon after signing a long-term contract extension that could potentially keep him in Kansas City through 2019.
For now Brayan Pena will move atop the catching depth chart, but Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star speculated this morning that the Royals could be interested in 40-year-old Ivan Rodriguez as a veteran replacement. And that was before the news of Perez’s longer-than-expected recovery timetable.
Pena has hit just .251 with a .293 on-base percentage and .359 slugging percentage in 267 career games through age 29, but that .652 OPS is actually higher than Rodriguez’s mark in both 2011 (.604) and 2010 (.640). Rodriguez can still shut down a running game with his elite arm strength, whereas Pena has thrown out just 27 percent of steal attempts.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.