Salvador Pérez will not be the new Johnny Bench

Catchers get injured after home plate. But it will be others, not Salvador Pérez, now sidelined with a sprained left thumb, but suffered on a swing.

Well, apart from the valuable Venezuelan pitchers, the country’s three horses in the Major Leagues are Miguel Cabrera, José Altuve and Salvador, in addition to the group of youngsters led by Ronald Acuña.

Salvador could have been another Johnny Bench, but the Royals have taken care of him, sometimes playing him at DH or at first.

This year Salvador has appeared in 21 games behind the plate, and in 13 as a DH.

Manager Mike Matheny explained for a Kansas City newspaper…:

“Salvador’s value is incalculable, both after home plate and at bat. He has sustained injuries, so we have to take care of him.”

Salvador, at 32, is in his 11th season, has appeared in 1,172 games, 1,055 as a catcher. He has accumulated a batting average of 268, with 206 home runs and 672 RBIs.

“Leader” asked him on the phone…: Do you prefer to be a catcher, first baseman or designated?

“I like to play every day, both offensively and defensively.”

My dear friend, Humberto Acosta, published a full page, on January 16, 1989, an exciting and historic report about Johnny Bench, which ended between questions…:

“Will another Johnny Bench show up?”

Reds manager Sparky Anderson said in 1983, when Bench retired…:

“I would never have used Johnny so much at catcher if I had known how much damage he was doing to his waist and back. Johnny could have played about three more seasons, because he was so strong. But I ended his career.”

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Bench played for 17 years, until age 36, and appeared in 2,158 lineups, 1,742 as a catcher.

Humberto Acosta also published that time, 33 years ago, what Bench said to journalists when announcing that he would not play anymore…:

“All this ceased to be fun for me. It was a decision made three weeks ago, and my body has said the last word. Actually, I’m exhausted and worn out. There is a season and a time for everything, and this is the proper time for my retirement.”

Salvador, with 48 in 2021, surpassed Bench the record for the most home runs by a catcher in a season, which was 45, set in 1970. In that 2021 he was also the leading Valencian, driving in 121 runs.

Salvador’s injuries have not been in seasons

Salvador Pérez is a lucky player.

He has suffered four notable injuries, but none in regular-season games.

During training in 2012, he injured his right meniscus.

In March 2018, he suffered a “Grade 2” injury to his right leg while trying to climb a ladder carrying a suitcase.

On February 27, 2019, he injured his right elbow in training.

On August 21, 2021, he had to be treated urgently because he suffered from visual difficulties, in both eyes.

The doctors and trainers of the Royals usually comment with marked interest, how the Valencian is a kind of oak behind home plate during the seasons, but outside of them he is exposed to all evils.

Manager Matheny commented…: “Salvador is the strongest and healthiest on our roster. I’m sure all managers would logically wish they had 40 like him on his rosters. I also!”.

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Pérez will be able to collect up to 171 million dollars

The Royals signed Salvador through 2025, including the current season, for $80 million, showing the confidence he enjoys in Kansas City.

And he has an option for 2026, for 13 million 500 thousand dollars. Then the boy will have turned 36 years old. That economic future, plus what has been collected to date, makes a total of 171 million.

Perhaps the career of Salvador, my dear Humberto Acosta, is not as tremendous as that of Johnny Bench, but it does seem possible that if he continues as he is, he will go down in history as one of the best catchers in the Major Leagues.

Oh!… and one of those who have suffered the fewest injuries.