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Perez, catcher of the future, called on by Royals

Perez, catcher of the future, called on by Royals

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Perez, catcher of the future, called on by Royals
ST. PETERSBURG -- Salvador Perez, regarded as the Royals' catcher of the future, will be getting an early start on his Major League career.

Perez is expected to join the Royals for Wednesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays and remain with the club for the rest of the season.

He'll replace catcher Brayan Pena, who is going to Miami for the birth of his child and is on paternity leave. That left the Royals with only Manny Pina to catch because Matt Treanor is on the disabled list with a concussion.

Perez, called up from Triple-A Omaha, has adapted well since his promotion to the Pacific Coast League. In 12 games, he's batted .333 (16-for-48) with five doubles, a home run and 10 RBIs. In the Texas League, Perez hit .283 with eight homers, 43 RBIs in 79 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

"He's done a great job," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "He's a very advanced catcher from the receiving, throwing, game-calling and blocking aspects. And, offensively, he just keeps getting better and better and we just felt it was time to get him up here and get his feet wet and see how he adjusts to the Major Leagues. He's going to stay the rest of the year."

If manager Ned Yost uses Perez as the primary catcher, he'll be the fourth player from Omaha promoted this year to become a lineup regular, joining first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and second baseman Johnny Giavotella.

"Ned will decide how much but we wouldn't bring him up if we didn't think he was going to play a lot. So we'll give him a strong look," Moore said. "It's important that we continue to continue play well at the Major Leagues and win as many games as we can but we also have to balance that out with how we potentially prepare for 2012 and beyond."

As the Royals' lineup continues to evolve, tapping into the rich Minor League organization, it is indeed looking more like a blueprint for the 2012 season.

"We'll see," Moore said. "First of all, these players we've called up have earned the opportunity to be in the Major Leagues. We're not putting them up there just to see how they look in a Major League uniform. They've earned that opportunity but we all know what a big adjustment it is performing at the Major League level versus the Minor League level. So we need to get those players in a position to adjust to Major League pitching and lifestyle and this is the best opportunity to do that."

Perez, 21, was expected to be a September callup when the big league rosters are expanded for the final month of the season, but this will give the Royals a chance for a longer evaluation period with 46 games remaining.

The Royals cleared room on the active and 40-man rosters for Perez by placing right-hander Kyle Davies on unconditional release waivers Wednesday.

Pena can be on paternity leave for up to three days, which would get him back at least for the weekend series at Chicago. At that point, the Royals will have to decide if they'll keep three catchers or possibly send out a pitcher.

"We'll see. Right now we're carrying an extra pitcher so we don't know yet," Moore said.

Treanor will probably have to undertake a Minor League injury rehabilitation assignment once he is cleared to resume playing, Moore said.

Perez, from Valencia, Venezuela, was signed in 2006 when he was 16 and has risen rapidly since he began playing with the Rookie-classification team at Surprise, Ariz., in 2007. The biggest concern about the 6-foot-3 right-handed batter was his hitting but last year at Class A Wilmington he batted a solid .290, the eighth-highest average in the Carolina League, with seven homers and 53 RBIs in 99 games. He hit .318 after the All-Star break.

Invited to Major League Spring Training this year, Perez wowed Yost and the coaching staff with his quick, strong and accurate throws to second base.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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