Kansas City Royals Reminded of Their Mortality
By David Hill
Virtually everything that could have gone right for the Kansas City Royals went right on Opening Day. The offense was firing on all cylinders, stealing bases and actually showing power, including Mike Moustakas‘ first career opposite field home run. The Royals defense was the same as it ever was, making the extraordinary seem routine. On the mound was the newly extended ace of the staff, Yordano Ventura, displaying some truly filthy breaking pitches and an improved changeup to supplement that upper 90’s fastball. It was almost a perfect day.
Then came a moment of sheer terror for everyone associated with the Royals. After allowing a solo home run to Jose Abreu, Ventura lasted three more pitches before dropping to the ground, clutching his pitching hand in obvious agony. Immediately, the previous years of hardship and tragedy came back to mind, images of those former pitchers who flamed out due to injury, like Jose Rosado and Gil Meche.
We held our collective breath, hoping for the best but fearing the worst. After a couple of minutes of working on Yordano Ventura’s hand, the demeanor of those circling the fallen hurler changed, with a more jovial atmosphere. He walked off under his own power, but there was the feeling that everything would be fine.
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Fortunately for Ventura and the Royals, that injury was just a thumb cramp, leaving him probable to make his next start on Sunday against the Angels. Yet, while we can all laugh with relief and joke about Ventura cramping up during Opening Day, those few moments are a reminder of what a thin edge pitchers walk when they take the mound. Every pitch can be that one that leads to injury and a possible visit to the dreaded Doctor James Andrews.
For the Royals, who have so much invested upon the fortunes and health of their arms, the loss of Yordano Ventura may well have been catastrophic for the season. While the Royals do have excellent pitching depth, and would theoretically have plenty of time to plug that gap in the rotation, it is just not the same as having that young stud pitcher standing tall upon the mound and firing 100+ MPH fastballs while looking like he is playing a relaxing game of catch.
Yordano Ventura and the Kansas City Royals managed to escape disaster on Monday, walking away with nothing more than a mild scare and a thumb cramp. If nothing else, those moments served as a reminder as to how thin the margin of error for the Royals may well be, and how close these arms are to mortality.