Kansas City Royals: Working Through Tragedy

Sep 30, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) delivers a pitch against the Cleveland Indians during the second inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) delivers a pitch against the Cleveland Indians during the second inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

It seems to be all too tragic of a scenario that keeps happening in MLB. A young rising star with a promising future is taken far too early from this world. The Kansas City Royals were victims of this earlier this year.

In January this year Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reported the passing of Kansas City Royals superstar Yordano Ventura. At the young age of 25, Ventura passed in a tragic accident in his home country of the Dominican Republic. Only a few months removed from tragedy and the Royals are still trying to cope with the loss of one of their most beloved players.

Ventura had plenty of drama on the field. From a masterful outing in Game Six of the 2014 World Series to the issues with opponents such as Mike Trout, Manny Machado, Brett Lawrie, Adam Eaton, and their respective teams. But much more than his fierce competitiveness, Ventura was known by his teammates for being a caring and fun-loving soul.

Ventura’s teammates are still searching for their own ways to move on from their loss. They are all searching and coping in their own separate ways. In an article by Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star, members of the team outline how they have attempted to move on from their loss.

Coping with loss

Danny Duffy is one of the members of the Royals who was greatly affected by the loss of Ventura. Duffy explained how he had vivid dreams where Ventura visited him. Before his game against the Dominican Republic in the WBC, Duffy had a dream that Ventura was in. Duffy questioned why Ventura had to leave, to which Ventura advised that he will always be with Duffy. Going into the game, Duffy had Ventura’s #30 on the heel of his cleats when he took the mound. The result was a masterful performance that helped propel the United States to the next round.

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The process has been different for everyone. Pitching coach Dave Eiland still looks to the railing in the dugout, where Ventura could always be seen joking and smiling with teammates, only to find an empty space.

Infielder Christian Colon has spent a lot of time in mourning. Watching old interviews with Ventura and holding on to text messages that he shared with his former teammate. Colon spent time talking to his wife Kayla about old plays and memories that he shared with Ventura to try and deal with the pain.

Being close with Ventura

Cheslor Cuthbert, a 24-year-old from Nicaragua, came up in the minors with Ventura. The trip through the minors alone builds friendships and brotherhoods as you want to see your teammates succeed. Cuthbert made his MLB debut in 2015. That debut was welcomed by Ventura who offered Cuthbert a room in his home, showing the kind of person he was. In the Dodd article, Cuthbert recalls:

"“He always looked out for us,” Cuthbert said. “When I got here, I didn’t have anywhere to live. He took me to his house and said I can live with him, no problem.”"

The loss hit veterans and rookies alike. Veterans like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jarrod Dyson, Salvador Perez, and others all flew to attend the funeral of their friend.

Veteran pitcher and closer Kelvin Herrera was one of the players that knew Ventura the best. Herrera knew Ventura from the Royals Dominican Academy and knew Ventura’s family. During his interview for the Kansas City Star, Herrera stated:

"“He was a guy I basically raised,” Herrera said. “I taught him a lot of stuff about baseball – in the field, off the field. We shared a lot of stuff.”"

Herrera, much like many of the players who were very close to Ventura, could not attend the funeral. He just couldn’t see Ventura’s family. Baseball has helped Herrera, much like it has helped the entire Royals family.

Moving forward

Dealing with the loss of someone close to you is never easy. It is something that everyone must handle in their own way. We saw this in the offseason with the passing of Jose Fernandez and how some of his teammates tried to cope with their loss.

These men still have jobs to do in 2017. The best way for them to honor their teammate is to go out and play their hearts out in every game. It’s what Ventura would do and they know that. They will continue to hold on to the good memories and reminisce about the past. The best way to honor the memory of their superstar pitcher.

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The Royals will be moving forward with the 2017 season without the physical embodiment of Ventura. But just like in Duffy’s dream, Ventura will always be there with them in memory.