In the months after Yordano Ventura died in a car crash on a mountainous road in the Dominican Republic, the Royals sought to educate their players on the dangers and risks involved with being a professional athlete.
The mission was not new. The Royals have preached awareness on sensitive and important issues for years, bringing speakers to spring training, meeting in small groups and discussing topics such as alcohol abuse, drinking and driving and the use of pornography.
“We’ve done a lot of leadership stuff with our players,” Moore said Tuesday, two days after starting pitcher Danny Duffy was cited for driving under the influence. “(We’re) very transparent about things that happen in our game, not only with drugs and alcohol. We talk about pornography, and the effects of what that does to the minds of players and the distractions, and how that leads to abuse of — domestic abuse — to abuse of women. How it impacts relationships — we talk about a lot of things. And I don’t mind sharing with you.”
For more than 20 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, Moore answered questions from reporters on Duffy’s incident, which took place Sunday evening in Overland Park. For another 20 minutes following the press conference, he remained on the bottom floor at Kauffman Stadium, discussing at length the problems that can afflict young ballplayers.
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“They have a gift to perform athletically,” Moore said. “It doesn’t mean they’re a perfect person. And there’s no need to protect the fact that mistakes are made, and we should be doing everything that we can to assist in the stability and the balance of our athletes.
“These guys grow up playing the game that they love to play. They have the freedom and the choices of manhood. But oftentimes, they don’t have those responsibilities. Because we don’t allow them to have those responsibilities. We do a lot for them, because we want them to compete every single day at the highest level against the best of the best. And we want to protect them from different ills of society, so they can go out there and do what we love to do and celebrate what they do on the field.
“So do I think we should constantly look at ways to help improve the character and help mold and shape our players? I do.”
Duffy, who is on the 10-day disabled list, delivered a two-minute statement on the incident Tuesday afternoon. Moore said the organization would let the legal system play out and gather all the relevant facts before commenting further on Duffy’s behavior.
“When those types of situations happen, I’m not interested in any alibis,” Moore said. “I’m not interested in any excuses. It will run its course. It will run its course and the facts will come out at the appropriate time.”
Duffy’s arrest comes just seven months after Ventura was killed in a single-car accident while driving in the early-morning hours in his home country. It remains unclear if the accident was related to alcohol or other substances. His toxicology report was not released to the public.
“I take this personally when our players fail off the field,” Moore said. “I take it personally. And we should examine that very strongly as an organization.”