Yordano Ventura was cruising into the seventh inning of the Royals’ 10-1 victory over the White Sox on opening day Monday. Then Kauffman Stadium went silent.
It started when Ventura gave up a leadoff homer to Jose Abreu, which cut the Royals’ lead to 4-1.
Then Ventura suffered a right thumb cramp four pitches into the next at-bat. But it looked much worse.
After throwing a 96-mph fastball on a 2-1 count to Adam LaRoche, Ventura finished his follow-through, then grabbed his right wrist in pain. He crumpled to the ground behind the pitcher’s mound as a Royals’ trainer attended to Ventura, rubbing his palm and thumb on his right hand.
While the crowd was stunned, manager Ned Yost said he had seen this before.
“I figured he had a hand cramp. … He was shaking his hand. It’s happened to him before,” Yost said after the game.
“It just takes a minute for it to get it uncramped, but at that point he was done.
“It was a pretty extensive cramp.”
Ventura rose to his feet, shook his hand and walked off the field. He was replaced by Kelvin Herrera, who struck out LaRoche and retired the next two batters.
After the game, Ventura said through translator and teammate Jeremy Guthrie that he felt his thumb lock up and he thought it was something really bad before the cramp subsided. Ventura said he was not concerned about missing any time.
In six-plus innings, Ventura allowed four hits, including the home run. He struck out two, walked one and hit a batter in 81 pitches, 51 for strikes. He’s scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif.