By CARLOS RODRIGUEZ
The Associated Press
GUADALAJARA, Mexico — All-Star catcher Salvador Perez injured his left knee in a home-plate collision with Drew Butera, his backup with the Kansas City Royals, and Venezuela rallied to beat Italy 11-10 Saturday in the World Baseball Classic on Martin Prado’s 10th-inning double.
Italy’s Butera stumbled into Perez to end the ninth inning with the score tied at 10. Butera appeared to try limiting contact with Perez but still fell into his left knee, and Perez struggled to put weight on the leg as he was helped off the field.
“Salvador has a loose knee and he’s going to go to the clinic for X-rays to see if everything is fine”, Venezuela manager Omar Vizquel said. “Right now, he*s a question mark for tomorrow’s game.”
Tigers reliever Francisco Rodriguez was also injured on the play. The Venezuelan right-hander made a relay toss to Perez, then fell to the ground. It was unclear what his injury was.
Perez hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning to put Venezuela ahead 10-8. Perez is a four-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner and has averaged 137.5 games per season behind the plate over the past four years. He had surgery in 2012 to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee.
Prado, who plays for the Atlanta Braves, brought home Houston’s Jose Altuve with his hit to center field.
The Venezuelans trailed 5-0 after four innings but stayed alive in the WBC, improving to 1-1 in Group D. Venezuela was eliminated in the first round four years ago.
Puerto Rico (1-0) is the group leader. The Italians (1-1) are in second with a better run differential while Mexico (0-1) is third. The top two teams advanced to the next round.
“The meaning of the win is huge because there is no tomorrow, and we needed the win no matter what,” Vizquel said. “I’ve played many games in my career, but this one is on the top three because we were able to rally against a tremendous opponent that never had the guard down. I did not know that the Italians can play ball like that.”
Venezuela will play against Mexico today and Puerto Rico will face Italy.