Adding an ace like Johnny Cueto to the starting rotation is a critical move for the Royals as they chase a World Series title, but for right-hander Edinson Volquez, it means he gets to be reunited with a longtime friend.
Volquez and Cueto were teammates for four seasons in Cincinnati from 2008-2011, and even lived with each other their first two years in the Queen City.
The two speak every day, Volquez said, and that Cueto heard he was getting traded before he started Saturday night in Colorado.
“I was hoping (the front office) would get him (Saturday) night,” Volquez said. “He thought he got traded when he was warming up in Colorado (Saturday) night.”
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Volquez found out the Royals were on the brink of getting him when he arrived in the Royals’ clubhouse Sunday morning, and found out it was official along with the 33,638 fans at Kauffman Stadium saw the announcement on the scoreboard.
“I was so happy to find out he was gonna be here the rest of the season,” Volquez said.
When the Reds visited Kansas City on May 19-20, Volquez predicted to Cueto he might land in Kansas City in the next few months.
“The last time he was here against us, he told me we got a great team,” Volquez said. “I was joking around and I said, ‘We might bring you here.’”
Looks like Volquez has a crystal ball.
Now, Cueto joins a team with World Series aspirations, which makes Kansas City a perfect fit for Cueto, Volquez said.
“He’s competitive. He wants to win,” Volquez said. “This is the right place for him to win some games.”
Team chemistry is a point of emphasis in the clubhouse for the Royals, and the always-jovial Volquez feels Cueto will fit in just fine.
“He’s kind of a quiet guy, but he’s funny, too,” Volquez said. “We’re going to enjoy our time together again.”
Cueto uses his intelligence and clean mechanics to baffle hitters, Volquez said. Since Volquez left the Reds and Cueto became the Reds’ clear ace, Cueto is 51-26 with a 2.55 ERA.
Having Cueto in the clubhouse will mean another role model for Yordano Ventura, who pitched seven inning of one-run ball Sunday in the Royals’ 5-1 win over Houston, manager Ned Yost said.
“Any time that you can have a teammate that knows how to win and you’re trying to aspire to be like him, it’s only going to help,” Yost said. “Having Volky, having Johnny there is definitely gonna have an impact in Ventura’s growth too.”
After Sunday’s game, Ventura said through a translator he’s been a longtime fan of Cueto.
“I’ve followed his career,” Ventura said, “and I’m happy he’s going to be here in Kansas City.”
Volquez has spoken to Cueto since the trade became official, and said Cueto is heading back to Cincinnati to gather his belongings before meeting the team in Cleveland for a three-game set with the Indians.
Cueto wore No. 47 for the Reds, which is occupied by Franklin Morales on the Royals. Volquez said Cueto almost bought Morales a watch for the number’s rights, but instead settled on a change to No. 45.