It’s a remarkably swift turnaround for the veteran Perez, who underwent surgery on June 24 to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. At the time of the surgery, manager Mike Matheny told reporters that doctors expected Perez to require about eight weeks to mend from the surgery. Instead, he’s back on the big league roster after exactly five weeks and having appeared in just three minor league rehab games (during which he went 4-for-8 with a double).
Perez, 32, is playing out the first season of a four-year, $82MM contract extension that stands as the largest contract 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 slugged a league-leading 48 homers and plated an MLB-best 121 runs, but the pendulum has swung in the other direction thus far in 2022. It’s been arguably the worst offensive season of Perez’s career, as he’s slashed just .211/.254/.426 through his first 236 trips to the plate.
Of course, the thumb issue that required surgical repair could well have played into those doldrums at the plate. Perez first went on the injured list in early May with what the team termed a sprain in his thumb, and while he returned in just three weeks’ time, he was back on the injured list and headed for surgery less than a month later.
The hope for both Perez and the Royals is that the newly mended thumb will bring about a return to form. No one should be surprised if Perez never matches his incredible 2021 output — it’s unrealistic to expect anyone, let alone a catcher with Perez’s workload to replicate those numbers — but there’s obviously quite a bit of room for improvement over his early scuffles at the dish.