In an interview with KCSP (610 AM) on Thursday morning, Royals manager Ned Yost said one of his first thoughts after learning of Yordano Ventura’s death was Game 1 of the 2015 World Series.
Edinson Volquez was the starter for that game, but he was unaware that his father had died that day. Volquez’s family wanted him to pitch the game without knowing about his father, and Yost frequently checked to make sure that Volquez had not learned the terrible news.
“Every time I went out there, he was surrounded by Johnny Cueto and Yordano Ventura and they were laughing and they were joking,” Yost told Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler. “Those three guys were so proud that three Dominican pitchers were going to be starting games in the World Series.
“That’s what I remember — how happy Yordano was at that time and how excited he was and how playful he was as a young man. The relationship and the brotherhood, that’s what’s the hard part to get over.”
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Yost told 610 that he was recently at a reunion of the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers World Series team, and was struck by how they’ve all aged, even though 35 years has passed since they were together. Yost also noted that the connections they made as players remain strong today.
That’s why Ventura’s death Sunday in a car accident in the Dominican Republic will leave a void for the Royals.
“When I got the news Sunday morning, you know, of course you’re in shock and you sit and reflect on Yordano’s life and then I thought about, your career, it comes and goes, but what is constant and what stays forever is the relationships that you foster during your playing career,” Yost said. “And that’s what is so important. That’s where the big hole is, it’s going to be in the relationships.
“We’re not even talking about his contributions on the field. That’s secondary to the relationships that you develop when you’re playing Major League Baseball throughout your career. That’s what’s important and that’s where the hole is going to be.”
Yost, who has been in professional baseball for more than 40 years, said the Royals players have a “brotherhood” that is unique.
That is another reason why Ventura’s death is so tough for the Royals.
“Our guys, what’s so special about them, is the brotherhood that they have among themselves, and again, this is going to hurt,” Yost told 610. “They’ve seen Yordano come up as an immature 22-year-old and over the last three or four years really start to grow up and understand what it takes to be successful, and they’ve been there lock in step with him the whole way. They had their arms around him when he did great and they had their arms around him when they didn’t do so great. It’s a special relationship.”
Many of those players will be at FanFest, which begins Friday. Toby Cook, who is the Royals’ vice president of publicity, said that having so many of the players, coaches and team officials at the event could help the cathartic.
Yost said the same thing on 610 AM on Wednesday.
“It’s been an emotional week, it’s been a hard week,” Yost said. “I’m really looking forward to getting to Kansas City and seeing our fans and we can all start this healing process together.”
You can listen to the entire interview here.