(TNS) — Royals catcher Salvador Perez is going to Washington, D.C.
For a sixth straight season, he will represent the Royals at MLB's All-Star game, which will be held at Nationals Park on July 16.
So far has the Royals' star fallen, however, that Perez will not start the game as he did his previous four seasons. At last count, Perez ranked fourth in polling on Tuesday with 614,492 fan votes. Players and coaches selected him as a reserve player on the American League roster.
For the time being, Perez is the only Royals player making the trip. Whit Merrifield, whose .303 average is second on the team only to recently reinstated outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, did not earn the fans' vote.
Sidelined by a knee sprain, Perez got a late start to his season. He has not found a groove at the plate, hitting at a .213 clip and driving in 34 runs over 67 games. In his last 22 games, he has hit at a paltry .172 (15 for 87) clip and collected three RBIs while striking out 27 times.
Yet he's not the only catcher in the league who has experienced trouble at the plate. Among those with 200 or more at-bats, the Rays' Wilson Ramos, voted the AL starter, is the only one batting near .300. Ramos entered Sunday with a .289 average, which was 40 points higher than the next-best average owned by the Athletics' Jonathan Lucroy.
"I'm not having a great year hitting right now, but I'm trying to do my best every night," Perez said Sunday. "It's part of the game. I'm going to enjoy it with my family and be excited for the two days in Washington, D.C."
There's still a chance Merrifield could join Perez at Nationals Park. Should someone on the American League roster become injured, manager A.J. Hinch and his staff, which includes Royals assistant athletic trainer Kyle Turner, could pull him into the fold for his first career All-Star game.
"I hope Whit can go too," Perez said. "He deserves it. He's had a tremendous year.
"He's one of the guys who comes in every day here and supports the team and plays hard for us. We're gonna see."