Gordon, Perez rare pair of Royals All-Stars
Outfielder, catcher first duo from Kansas City selected since 2003
KANSAS CITY -- Now we know. Tough, gruff, seemingly stoic Royals manager Ned Yost can get sentimental and perhaps even choke up a little bit.
It happens at All-Star time when, as a manager, he gets to break the news to his players about which of them has been selected for the Midsummer Classic. Yost knew before Saturday's game against Oakland that left fielder Alex Gordon and catcher Salvador Perez were the Royals' picks. But it was top secret.
"There were times during the game yesterday that I got emotional thinking about these two guys," he said.
Yost wanted very badly to win that game -- and the Royals did, 4-3 -- so the All-Star celebration would be held in a completely festive atmosphere. But then, Yost had to go before the assembled team and make the announcement and the emotions kicked in.
"I did pretty good yesterday," he said during Sunday's news conference. "I only had to stop once."
It was the first time in 10 years that the Royals were awarded two spots on the American League team which, on July 16, will meet the National League at New York's Citi Field.
It was an emotional day, too, for Gordon and Perez, both first-time selections. Each of their mothers happened to be at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday and both got congratulatory embraces when they emerged from the clubhouse with the big news.
When Gordon got home, his 2 1/2-year-old son Max had already heard the news.
"My parents told him so it was around 7 o'clock [CT] when I first saw him, and he just said to me in kind of a little kid's voice: 'We're going to the All-Star Game?' so it was pretty cool," Gordon said. "So, he's pretty excited, too."
Perez's mother was scheduled to return to Venezuela on Sunday for the rest of the summer and it was decided that she'd depart as planned. But now, she'll return in time for the All-Star Game in New York.
Both players remembered watching All-Star Games on TV in the past. And last year in Kansas City, as a team "ambassador," Gordon watched from the stands and enjoyed the Home Run Derby.
"To actually go there and experience it on the field, to get to bring your kid down there with your family is going to be pretty special," Gordon said. "I think I'm going to be a little kid when I'm down there on the field and watching it."
Perez felt the same way.
"As I Minor League player, I watched the All-Star Game, but just being there, I'll be a lot like Alex, being a little kid especially having my family with me will be a special feeling," he said.
Perez is just the third catcher to represent the Royals as an All-Star. Ellie Rodriguez was the only player picked in the franchise's first season (1969) and Darrell Porter was on three AL teams in 1978, '79 and '80.
"He's a special, special player," Yost said of Perez. "I've never had a catcher as good as Sal in 10 years of managing. Never. Javy Lopez was as good as they came when I was [a coach] with Atlanta and if I had my pick between Javy in his prime and Sal, I'd take Sal because of his leadership, his intellect behind the plate and the way he directs the game. And his energy behind the plate."
Gordon and Perez were selected in the vote of their fellow players around the AL, and that two Royals were selected was significant.
"It means a lot," Gordon said. "It means we're playing a little bit better than we have in the past. I know our record is better than it's been, but it's not where we want it to be. ... People are starting to take notice. Maybe, we can get another guy on there next year. It's good to see."
Yost said that he noticed a similar progression of All-Star recognition during the years as the Milwaukee manager.
"We had the one pick, but when we started making progress like we're doing here, we went from one to two to four," Yost said. "And that's exactly what's going to happen here. This is the start of it."
Yost thought the two choices were right on the mark.
"I thought Alex should have been an All-Star last year," he said. "I thought Sal was an All-Star from the minute I saw him four years ago."
Perez was asked if perhaps this was the first of 10 All-Star honors for him.
"Many more," Perez replied, laughing. "I hope so, anyway."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.