SURPRISE, Ariz. — The second opinion on Royals six-time All-Star Salvador Perez’s injured right elbow from noted specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Tuesday confirmed the Royals’ diagnosis of a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament.
Perez is scheduled to have Tommy John surgery on Wednesday and will miss the 2019 season.
If the surgery and rehab go according to plan, Perez could be ready for Opening Day 2020.
Catchers having Tommy John surgery usually require slightly less than the 14 months the Royals allow for the pitchers to recover from the same procedure.
The Royals’ plan without Perez, according to general manager Dayton Moore, is to go with Cam Gallagher and rookie Meibrys Viloria at catcher.
“We’re fortunate to have two young catchers,” Moore said on Saturday. “Cam Gallagher is someone who can really receive. We feel highly confident with his ability to receive and call a game. We like Viloria [as a backup] who can be offensive-oriented but also can really throw. He’s got a lot of fire, lot of toughness. There’s no doubt in our minds that he would do very well in the Major Leagues from a mental standpoint.
“It’s always possible [to sign a veteran]. But we’ll see how camp unfolds. We were pursuing catching depth all offseason. It’s hard to get a third or fourth-type catcher, or a backup catcher for the Kansas City Royals because they see Salvador Perez and know they won’t get the opportunity to establish themselves. That equation has changed but guys already are in other camps.”
One free-agent catcher the Royals reportedly have been in touch with is Martin Maldonado, who beat out Perez for the Gold Glove in 2017.
Perez suffered a flexor strain in his right forearm during his offseason throwing program in January and was shut down until arriving in camp in early February.
Perez seemed fine until last Wednesday, when he complained of soreness after some extensive throwing. He had an MRI exam on Thursday that revealed the partial tear of the UCL.