The last time Salvador Perez participated in All-Star Weekend was in 2018.

After advancing to six-straight All-Star Games, which including winning the Golden Glove five times with two Silver Sluggers, the Kansas City Royals catcher was out of baseball due to Tommy John surgery in 2019.

He had an All-Star worthy season in 2020, batting .333 with 11 home runs in 37 games, though the festivities didn’t take place due to the COVID-shortened season.

Perez was named a starter in his seventh All-Star Game on Thursday.

“It’s exciting. It’s a lot of hard work,” Perez said, reflecting back on his two-year absence from the Mid-Summer Classic. “I tell people to never quit. Keep focusing, play hard, no matter the situation at the moment. Things can change. I’m so excited to be back at the All-Star Game. Everybody in the major leagues wants to be in the All-Star Game.”

Perez’s sixth All-Star start comes after one of his best starts to a season in his career. He entered Friday’s game against Minnesota with a .278 average with 15 double, 18 home runs and 48 RBIs. He hit his 20th home run of the year in the game.

“I’m just a fan of this guy as a person, and I think that’s really what most Royals fans are, too,” manager Mike Matheny said Thursday. “It’s easy trying to lobby for him. You’re going to pull for the person as much as the player, and this guy is special all the way around.”

Wednesday’s four-hit game was his third of the year, tying for the major league lead with six others. His seventh All-Star selection ranks second only to George Brett (13) in Royals history.

But this year will be special with his first appearance in the Home Run Derby, an announcement he made Friday.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do before my career’s over,” Perez said. “Now I’ve got an opportunity and I’m so excited, so happy.”

Perez recalled watching the likes of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton go toe-to-toe in the 2017 Home Run Derby, inspiring him to not only strive to take part, but win it all.

The 31-year-old Perez is the fourth Royals player to participate in the Derby, joining Bo Jackson (1989), Danny Tartabull (‘91) and Mike Moustakas (2017). No Royal or catcher has ever won the event.

Royal minor

leaguers honored

It will be a busy month with teams outside the Royals organization for a trio of minor leaguers.

Outfielder Bubba Starling was selected to the United State Olympic baseball team and will head to Tokyo. He is currently hitting .271 for AAA Omaha with seven home runs and 17 RBIs. He is one of 24 players selected to play for Mike Scioscia and Team USA.

AA stars Bobby Witt Jr. and Nick Pratto will represent the Royals in the All-Star Futures Game on July 11.

Witt, the second overall pick in 2019, is batting .286 with a .905 OPS. Pratto, the fifth-ranked prospect in the Royals organization, is hitting .280 with 13 home runs.

Brandon Zenner can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZenner.

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