It’s a remarkably quick turnaround for veteran Perez, who operated on June 24 to repair a torn thumb ligament. At the time of the operation, manager Mike Matheny told reporters that doctors expected Perez to need about eight weeks to recover from the operation. Instead, he’s back on the big league roster after exactly five weeks and has only appeared in three minor league rehab games (in which he went 4-for-8 with a brace).
Perez, 32, is playing the first season of a four-year, $82 million contract extension that is the biggest deal in Royals franchise history. The seven-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner had a season for the ages in 2021 when he hit a league-leading 48 homers and scored an MLB-best 121 runs, but the pendulum swung back into the the other way so far into 2022. It was arguably the worst offensive season of Perez’s career, as he only reduced .211/.254/.426 on his first 236 trips to the plate.
Of course, the thumb problem that required surgical repair could well have played into this plaque slump. Perez was first listed on the injured list in early May with what the team said was a sprained thumb, and by the time he returned in just three weeks, he was back on the injured list. and headed for surgery less than a month later.
The hope for Perez and the Royals is that the newly repaired thumb will lead to a return to form. No one should be surprised if Perez never matches his incredible 2021 production – it’s unrealistic to wait for someone, let alone a receiver with Perez’s workload – to replicate those numbers – but he there’s obviously a lot of room for improvement from his early fights on the flat.