NEW YORK (AP) — Salvador Perez took foul balls of his mask, collarbone and fingers, and the Kansas City catcher kept on bouncing back, like some indestructible test dummy.
No bruise was too painful.
No ache was too much to overcome.
Not only did he anchor the pitching staff, he hit .364 (8 for 22) and was voted the Most Valuable Player in the Royals’ five-game World Series win over the New York Mets that culminated in a 7-2, 12-inning victory early Monday morning.
“Now I don’t feel pain. I don’t feel nothing,” he said.
Last year against San Francisco, Perez hit a foul pop to Pablo Sandoval for the Series’ final out, with the potential tying run at third.
Now that’s long behind him.
“In 2015 Kansas City is No. 1,” he said, the shiny trophy in front of him. “Who cares about what happened last year?”
This year, his grounder drove in the tying run as Kansas City rallied for two runs in the ninth inning. Then he singled leading off the 12th, setting up pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson to score the go-ahead run on pinch-hitter Christian Colon’s single. Because of that, backup Drew Butera caught the final out, a called third strike Wade Davis threw past Wilmer Flores.
“I think if I had one regret during the whole playoffs, was I had to pinch run for Sal there in that inning,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “But it opened up the door for us to score five. I really wish that Sal could have been out there to jump in Wade’s arm when we got that final out.”
Perez set a major league record for most innings caught over a two-year span since 1914 with 2,724, according to STATS, topping the 2,704 for the Chicago Cubs’ Randy Hundley in 1967-68. In addition, Perez has caught 38 spring training innings over the past two years plus 36 innings during the major league All-Stars’ 2014 postseason tour of Japan.
“He’s a horse,” Mets manager Terry Collins said Sunday afternoon. “Put up the offensive numbers, when you’re catching 150 a year, that’s impressive. I mean, I know he’s a big, strong guy, but that big body gets beat up. He’s had some foul tips already in the first part of this Series that you wonder if he’s coming back out and yet he does. He’s a horse.”
Perez took a foul tip off the mask in Game 4 of the AL Division Series and AL Championship Series, and in Game 4 of the World Series he was staggered by a tip off his collarbone.
“He’s never going to say nothing,” said Yost, a former catcher. “He’s as tough as they come. You just know that even if you ask him, he’s going to tell you he’s fine, so no sense of asking him.”
Perez does have one habit that stinks. Ever since he had a four-hit game after teammate Alcides Escobar sprayed some Victoria’s Secret perfume on him late in the 2013 season, he’s spritzed himself with a scent every game. Since last year, it’s been 212 Men by Carolina Herrera cologne.
As the Royals celebrated at Citi Field, the overwhelming fragrance was of champagne.
“It’s unbelievable. I always say we feel like a family here,” said Perez, who signed with Kansas City as a free agent from Venezuela when he was 16. “We’ve got the same group, almost the same group, when I played my first year in 2007 in Arizona, the Rookie League. It’s amazing to now win a World Series and see the same guys with you.”