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Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez is an athlete anyone could root for

After the death of his father in the Dominican Republic, pitcher Edinson Volquez returned to the Royals on Saturday and watched from the dugout as his teammates beat the New York Mets in Game 4 of the World Series. Volquez will start Game 5 on Sunday night with the Royals one win away from a championship.
After the death of his father in the Dominican Republic, pitcher Edinson Volquez returned to the Royals on Saturday and watched from the dugout as his teammates beat the New York Mets in Game 4 of the World Series. Volquez will start Game 5 on Sunday night with the Royals one win away from a championship. The Associated Press

Edinson Volquez is a sweet and vivacious soul, the sort of guy who sees the good in people, loves to engage and will talk as candidly and patiently about his missteps and hardships as his triumphs.

So four days after his father, Daniel, died so shortly before his start in Game 1 of the World Series that his family made the wrenching decision not to let him know so he could pitch, Volquez sat down before a media mob late Saturday night for the first time since suffering this loss and proceeded to express his gratitude.

“I just want to thank everybody here for their support,” he said, “and (for) worrying about me.”

This was a subdued version of Volquez, who later today will complete the dizzying journey from mourning his father in the Dominican Republic to starting for the Royals in Game 5 of the World Series with a chance to win it.

But it also was vintage Volquez, 32, a man who radiates a grace that makes you wish you could absorb away some of this pain for him.

“I’m pretty sure my dad is going to be proud of me when I pitch tomorrow on the mound,” he said. “We’ll see.”

His father, he added, “was everything for me. He was one of the greatest men.”

Nothing came easy for Volquez, who faced various forms of identity crisis after being signed by the Texas Rangers and injuries and suspension in his time with Cincinnati and even blunt failure with San Diego before resurrecting his career with Pittsburgh last year and becoming the Royals most reliable starter this season.

Yet as the saddest day of his life turns toward a day that could mark his greatest feat, Volquez hopes he can fuse the events together.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to be thinking of my mom,” he said. “And the rest of my family is going to be so happy to see me pitch.”

He’ll honor his father by writing his name on his hat or in his glove, he said. But however it goes Sunday night, he has long since honored him by how far he’s come and who he’s become — a guy anyone could root for.

Vahe Gregorian: 816-234-4868, @vgregorian

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