Salvy a Shark All the Way
After playing a total of 161 games behind the plate and shepherding an ace pitching staff to Game 7 of the World Series, Salvador Perez was rewarded with his second Gold Glove last night.
Although he entered pop culture this season as a perfume-wearing backstop, he’s better known to American League base runners as a stone-cold killer. He picks runners off first; he guns them down at third; he throws them out at second. In his first Major League game, in fact, he picked two guys off first base.
And on a team whose pitching got them to within a few innings of a World Series title, young Salvador herded those cats into a cohesive unit. I don’t envy the modern-day catcher who has to adjust to, cajole, and console a coterie of starters and relievers. The 24-year-old Victoria’s Secret of Valencia led the Royals through three playoff rounds and into the Fall Classic, smiling and joshing all along. He looks like a kid playing a kids’ game and having the time of his life. Amen to that.
While Puerto Rican stalwart Yadier Molina won his seventh straight gaunte de oro, for the Cardinals, his successor as the best defensive catcher in MLB may be just a bit further down Highway I-70, on the western side of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers.
You’d think after such a long and intense campaign in North America–only his second full season– Salvy would now look for a bit of chillaxin’ time. Not really.
The tall man (6’3″ seems big for a catcher; he reminds one of Carlton Fisk) will play this winter for the Tiburones of the port city of La Guaira. (Royals teammate Alclides Escobar is also on the Sharks’ roster.) Part of Perez’ multi-year contract with the Royals is that he’s allowed to play back home; he’s said “tiredness is just something mental” (easy to say at age 24!)and “I want the people of Venezuela to see me play.”
Yep, this Perez guy’s got a lot more going for him than just a liberal sprinkling of lady’s perfume on his chest protector. He loves his country, and like Bob Abreu, will be much admired for it as his career continues. Go on, young man.