Royals make Salvador Perez 4th captain in franchise history

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals made seven-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez the fourth captain in franchise history before their opener against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday, rewarding one of the club's most popular players with the rare title.

Unlike football or basketball, the captain title is bestowed upon players who have either achieved a tremendous amount or displayed exemplary leadership over a lengthy period of time.

Perez fits both categories.

Along with his near-annual trips to the All-Star Game, the affable catcher has won four Silver Slugger awards, five Gold Glove awards and was the MVP of the 2015 World Series, when the Royals beat the Mets for their second championship.

He is also among the most popular players in the Royals' clubhouse. Perez's gregarious nature immediately puts young players at ease, which is a good thing for a club in the midst of a major youth movement, and he's always willing to sign autographs and take photographs for fans that show up long before the first pitch.

"Salvy is a Royals icon, a Kansas City icon and a baseball icon," Royals general manager J.J. Picollo said. "This honor reflects not just his place in Royals history but just as importantly the work he puts in and the leadership he provides our organization."

Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett and longtime star Frank White were the first Royals captains. They both held the title from 1989-90, when White retired, and Brett carried it on until his own retirement after the 1993 season.

Mike Sweeney was the last Royals captain, holding the honor from 2003 until leaving for Oakland for the 2008 season.

Aaron Judge of the Yankees was the only other MLB player with a captain title heading into this season.

Perez, 32, was batting third and behind the plate for the Royals' opener against the Twins. He's coming off a season in which he hit .254 with 23 homers and 76 RBIs while playing just 114 games.

Perez was the club's nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award in 2001, and last year, he won the Lou Gehrig Award, which is presented annually to a Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the character of the late Yankees star.

Game notes: Royals: OF Drew Waters (oblique strain) and LHP Daniel Lynch (rotator cuff strain) went on the IL before the game against Minnesota. OFs Jackie Bradley Jr. and Franmil Reyes and INF Matt Duffy had contracts selected from Triple-A Omaha. ... LHP Richard Lovelady was traded to Atlanta and 1B Matt Beaty to San Francisco, both for cash considerations.