USA TODAY Sport’s Bob Nightengale breaks down the teams to watch at this year’s World Baseball Classic.
USA TODAY Sports
Major league managers are left holding their breath when their star players depart for the World Baseball Classic, hoping only that they return in good health.
Consider the ninth inning of Saturday’s Venezuela-Italy game every manager’s worst nightmare, then.
Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez was injured by his teammate and backup, Drew Butera, who was attempting to score the game-winning run in a wild affair between the two teams in Jalisco, Mexico. Butera was easily out but, in attempting to slide into or around Perez, instead banged into his left leg, and Perez required assistance leaving the field and reaching the Venezuela clubhouse.
An MRI revealed inflammation to Perez’s knee, but no structural damage. He will sit out the rest of the WBC for Team Venezuela.
Perez had surgery in March 2012 to repair torn meniscus in his left knee.
The teams combined to score 16 runs from the fifth through 10th innings, as Venezuela erased an early 5-0 deficit and eventually hung on to win, 11-10.
But the final Italy comeback may prove costly both for the Venezuelan team and the Royals.
Gavin Cecchini’s two-out, two-strike single off Rodriguez drove in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth. Butera advanced from first to third, and when a cutoff throw got away in the middle of the infield, he ran through third base coach Nick Punto’s stop sign. Venezuela reliever Francisco Rodriguez recovered the ball near the mound and hurriedly shoveled to Perez for the out – and the possibly damaging collision.
Both players ended up on the ground as the inning ended. Rodriguez, the Detroit Tigers closer, told reporters after the game he was OK.
“Francisco Rodriguez pulled a groin, but he said it’s a cramp and that he*s going to be OK,” said Venezuela manager Omar Vizquel. “I talked to him and he said that he is fine.”
The Royals aren’t so sure about Perez, who underwent X-rays Saturday. It’s not known whether he’ll require an MRI exam.
AP contributed to this report