Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez will miss the remainder of the 2017 World Baseball Classic after suffering a left knee injury on a bizarre home plate collision in the ninth inning of Venezuela’s 11-10 win over Italy on Saturday afternoon in Jalisco, Mexico.
Italy trailed 10-9 in the bottom of the ninth inning with two men on base, when Gavin Cecchini singled with two outs to tie the game. But catcher Drew Butera also tried to score on the play, from first base. He was out by a mile, but in an awkward stumble toward home plate collided with Perez.
Perez suffered inflammation in his left knee, though an MRI revealed no structural damage, per a tweet from Team Venezuela. It is unknown how long he will be sidelined for beyond the WBC.
Perez hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to give Venezuela a 10-8 lead over Italy. He was 2-for-4 with a walk in the game.
What makes this injury even more notable is that Perez is the most durable catcher in baseball. The four-time All-Star has averaged 134 starts behind the plate in the last four years, and counting the postseason set a major league record with 2,725 innings caught in 2014-2015 with the Royals, the most ever by a catcher in a two-year span in major league history.
The story takes an even weirder turn in that Butera is the backup to Perez with the Royals. Had Butera scored on the play, Italy would have won the game.
"I feel really bad," Butera told reporters, per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. "I thought the ball was going to be in the gap and I was just trying to score. When I saw that I was going to be out by a lot, I just stopped. It was unfortunate that I hit him where I did. Obviously, I wasn't trying to hit him. I hope he is OK."
Venezuela (1-1) plays Mexico (0-2) in Pool D play from Mexico on Sunday, at 10 p.m. ET.