In the last week, the Chicago Cubs raised a 2016 World Series championship flag at Wrigley Field and passed out a bundle of diamond encrusted rings. Royals starter Jason Hammel tried to avoid all news coverage of the ceremonies and the ring.
It’s not that Hammel, a former Cubs starter, was bummed about missing the historic moment, a celebration after 108 years of waiting. He just wanted to ensure maximum intrigue before collecting his first World Series ring in person.
“I want to be surprised when I look at it,” Hammel said Saturday, standing near his locker at Kauffman Stadium. “But it’s supposed to be pretty immaculate.”
Hammel will not have to wait much longer. On Monday, Hammel and two other Cubs-turned-Royals — left-hander Travis Wood and outfielder Jorge Soler — will receive their rings at Wrigley Field before the Cubs’ home game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Royals have an early-season off day.
The timing, Hammel says, worked out perfectly for the trio of former Cubs.
The group will travel to Chicago on Sunday night, receive their rings on Monday evening and return to Kansas City on Tuesday morning. The Royals open a two-game series against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.
“It will be nice to get it there, especially for the 108 years that it took to get one,” Wood said. “So that will be something special that I will always take with me.”
All three players played roles in the championship season. Wood posted a 2.95 ERA in 77 appearances out of the bullpen. Hammel finished 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 30 starts before being left off the postseason roster. Soler clubbed 12 homers in 86 games during the regular season and started two games in the World Series, collecting two hits in a 1-0 loss in Game 3 at Wrigley Field.
“It’ll be a cool feeling,” Hammel said. “We definitely enjoyed our time there and the fans were a huge part of that success. So to do it in front of the home crowd would make it right.”
Every World Series champion can plan different ways to hand out rings to players no longer on the roster. Last season, Royals general manager Dayton Moore drove to St. Louis to deliver a ring to Ben Zobrist, who had moved to the Cubs. The club sent another official to give a ring to starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, who is with the San Francisco Giants. Manager Ned Yost gave reliever Ryan Madson his ring in person in Oakland.
As the Cubs passed out rings earlier this week, Hammel said he was cool with missing out. He loved his time in Chicago, he said. But he’s moved on to the next chapter.
“You know what? I’ve got new colors on and I respect that,” Hammel said. “I think (the Cubs) understand that as well. But it was a special trip that we did as a group, as family, as a brotherhood last year. So it would only be right to do it up there.”
Yost said the trip to Chicago will not interfere with Soler’s rehab from a strained oblique muscle. Soler was scheduled to have a rest day on Monday, Yost said. The club has not decided when he will begin a minor-league rehab stint. But he could potentially be ready to head out early this week.