Yesterday, Star photographer Dave Eulitt and I spent the better part of a 17-hour day with Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and international director Rene Francisco here in the Dominican Republic.
We toured Ventura’s hometown of Las Terrenas, saw the first ballfield he played on, ate fresh grouper with him at his favorite seaside restaurant and ended the day by watching a Dominican winter-league game.
This morning, we are at the Royals Academy outside Santo Domingo, where field coordinator Victor Baez is giving us a tour.
Baez has a collection of what he calls “poor dummies” (with names like “Rafael,” “Carlos” and “Julio”) that act as hitter stand-ins during a young pitcher’s throwing session.
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Baez says Yordano Ventura hit one such dummy twice in the head during one of his first workouts at the academy (which was then located at a different site).
As Baez spoke, Julio’s head fell off. They all need surgery, he says, so he is looking forward to first new models in seven years arriving soon.
Check back later for more updates...