KC@CWS: Perez has trouble with a popup at first base

CHICAGO -- Salvador Perez, already one of the game's premier catchers, is expanding his defensive horizons to first base.

Perez was the Royals' first baseman for the first time in Sunday's season finale against the White Sox. Manager Ned Yost gave regular Eric Hosmer, and his .302 average, the day off.

"I always take ground balls," Perez said. "I like playing another position."

The idea is to give Yost additional options and versatility and to give Perez an occasional break from the rigors of everyday catching.

"He's played first base in winter ball and he's got tremendous hands," Yost said. "Have you ever watched him take ground balls at short? I've had him take ground balls at first and I just want to see if it's an option. And I'm really convinced it is."

Perez had three hits, including a two-run homer in a 4-1 win, but didn't get much of a test defensively. He caught a foul popup, missed a wind-blown infield pop fly for an error and caught one infield throw.

"Oh my gosh, it was easy over there," he said, joking.

Yost gave up a thumb's up, with one caveat.

"He's going to be fine," Yost said. "It was his first time out there and we definitely need to work on popups in Spring Training next year, but he did fine. He was into it, ready every pitch."

First base is also a way to give Perez's knees a break -- he had knee surgery in 2012 and missed almost half the season -- and perhaps give Hosmer a break against a tough left-handed pitcher.

"You can give Hoz a day off here and there and not lose much on defense. You'll lose some, of course," Yost said.

It's similar to the way that in the past the Twins used catcher Joe Mauer at first base occasionally.

Designated hitter Billy Butler has been the Royals' primary backup option at first base, but he's exhibited some holes defensively.

"If something happens to Hoz in a game and Billy is DHing and you don't want to lose your DH, you've got to have a viable option," Yost added. "[Perez] is going to play a lot of first base in winter ball."

Perez again plans to play a limited time for La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League.

"I'm going to play first base, I'm not going to catch," Perez said. "I'll feel comfortable, Hosmer's been teaching me how to play first base."

How's he done?

"Salvy's an athlete, he'll be able to do it, that's for sure," Hosmer said, laughing. "Not like me, but he'll handle it."

Perez was asked why, when some folks consider him the best catcher around, he wants to try first base.

"Why can I not be the best first baseman, too?" he said, laughing.

Hosmer given finale off to finish with .302 average

TEX@KC: Hosmer's homer puts Royals on the board

CHICAGO -- The decision to try catcher Salvador Perez at first base rested on Eric Hosmer keeping his average above the .300 mark going into the final game.

Hosmer did so with one hit on Saturday night that put him at .302. The .300 level, of course, historically is one of baseball's standards of top performance.

"It's important. When you're pretty close to it, it's nice to finish above it," Hosmer said. "But for me, it's about the RBIs, I want to drive in runs. That's what we're supposed to do in the middle of the order -- drive in guys. But I was in the two hole most of the year and from where I started out and from last year, .300 is definitely a big number for me and I really embrace it."

Hosmer's hitting improved markedly starting in June, when he was moved to the three-hole, and he finished with 79 RBIs, tying Salvador Perez for third on the team behind Billy Butler's 82 and Alex Gordon's 81.

Most of the other regulars, except for Butler at designated hitter and Lorenzo Cain in center field, joined Hosmer on the bench. With the transplanted Perez on the infield were Johnny Giavotella at second base, Pedro Ciriaco at short and Irving Falu at third. David Lough and Justin Maxwell flanked Cain in the outfield. Brett Hayes was behind the plate.

Moustakas to work on swing in Venezuelan League

KC@CWS: Moustakas' homer puts the Royals on the board

CHICAGO -- Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas will carry his quest for hitting improvement to the Venezuelan Winter League.

Moustakas plans to play part of the winter season for the Cardenales de Lara, managed by Royals hitting coach Pedro Grifol. A teammate will be shortstop Alcides Escobar.

"I'm pretty excited about it. I'm going to go down there with Pedro for a few weeks and just keep working," Moustakas said. "It's going to be a little different style of baseball and it's going to be fun."

Moustakas said he'd play for an undetermined period, perhaps three to five weeks, starting at the end of November.

With a .233 average this season, Moustakas had 13 home runs and 43 RBIs entering Sunday. That's down from his .242/20/73 numbers last year.

"I think what happened is that he's a kid that always has high expectations. He set some real lofty goals and, in the beginning when he started out slow, he started pressing and made things worse," manager Ned Yost said. "He got to where he relaxed and started to climb forward. These young guys have got to learn how not to press in certain situations and this has been such a big year for us and they've learned."