KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Royals catcher Salvador Perez said the extra time off created by the COVID-19 pandemic and suspension of the Major League Baseball season has been good in some respects, but the abrupt stoppage also has been challenging.
"I waited one year, really a year and half ... (so) it's a little hard for me since I missed last year," Perez said. "But at the same time I've got to be focused and keep in shape and be ready when they call me."
Perez missed the 2019 season after undergoing an ulnar collateral ligament repair in his throwing elbow, commpnly known as Tommy John surgery.
Before spring training was shut down in March, Perez had started catching in games again and was beginning to get his timing down, the 2015 World Series MVP and six-time all-star said.
"I just want to play baseball," Perez said.
The 2020 season may remain on hold until at least July under a proposal approved by owners that was expected to be reviewed this week by the MLB Players Association, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Protocols and guidelines are being discussed fir social-distancing in the stands and on the field, where the proximity of the catcher and umpire to the batter may have to be adjusted, but Perez isn't concerning himself with such details.
"I don't think about that ...," he said. 'I know I have to be close to the umpire, but I think we are going to fine."
One thing seems certain, when and if baseball returns, it will be without fans at least in the beginning stages, something the fan-loving catcher will greatly miss.
"I love fans," Perez said. "I love to talk to the fans, you know. It's gonna be hard; it's gonna be weird, but if that's gonna be the best way to start playing, we've go to do it."
As for the "Salvy Spash" postgame celebration? It might also have to change in the 2020.
According to Royals communication staff, postgame interviews will most likely be run through Zoom, but Perez, a five-time Gold Glove winner, still plans to f=celebrate Royals wins.
"I want a little cup of water, and will splash with my fingers like that," he said.