NEW YORK (AP) Edinson Volquez will have his dad on his mind Sunday night when he tries to pitch the Kansas City Royals to their first World Series title in 30 years.
Volquez’s father, 63-year-old Daniel Volquez, died of heart failure hours before the right-hander started the opener Tuesday. Volquez said he got the news after Kansas City’s 5-4, 14-inning win, then flew home to the Dominican Republic.
He returned Saturday just before the start of Game 4, when the Royals rallied for a 5-3 win over the New York Mets and a 3-1 World Series lead.
“I wish he could be here right now and enjoy every game that I pitch,” Volquez said. “And tomorrow I’m going to be thinking of my mom, and the rest of my family is going to be so happy to see me pitch. My mom told me before I got here: `Go over there and enjoy the game like you always do and be proud. We are proud of you.'”
Volquez said he played catch a little bit on Friday. He wore a hooded sweat shirt in the Kansas City dugout during Game 4, and he may have his father’s name with him on the Citi Field mound.
“Inside my hat – put it inside my hat or in my glove,” he said. “I haven’t done it yet, but tomorrow maybe I will.”
“Every one of us gave him a big hug. We love the dude. He’s our brother,” pitcher Danny Duffy said. “Under the circumstances I don’t know if I’d be strong enough but he’s an amazing teammate, an amazing human being.”
Volquez allowed three runs over six innings in a no-decision in the opener, and Royals manager Ned Yost did not hesitate to select him for Game 5.
“He’s worked so hard to get to this point,” Yost said. “And it was like (teammate) Chris Young when his dad passed away. Chris just knew how proud his dad was of him and that his dad would want him to carry on. His dad would want him to be on that mound and helping his team win. And I imagine that Edi’s dad would want the same thing.”
Volquez said his family made the correct decision when they elected not to break the news before Tuesday’s start.
“If my wife told me,” he said, “I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to pitch. She decided to tell me later. And I think that was the right choice.”
Mets manager Terry Collins, whose father died in February, had some insight into Volquez’s emotions.
“I’m sure the one thing his father would want him to do is pitch Game 5,” Collins said. “So you’re challenged by that, the grief, and yet, hey, look, you know what would make him proud and make him happy, and that’s to go out and do what you do best and that’s to pitch.”
“So I salute him because I know how hard it will be for him. Right now he’s got something else to pitch for, and that’s the memory of his dad. He’s already tough enough,” he said.
Kansas City counts on Volquez. Signed to a $20 million, two-year contract, he led the team in wins (13) and ERA (3.55) during the regular season while throwing 200 1-3 innings. Volquez is 1-2 with a 4.37 ERA in four starts this postseason.
His mother told him this week how much his accomplishments meant to her husband:
“He passed away,” Volquez quoted his mom as saying, “but he was really happy to see you pitch in the big leagues, your dream.”
Volquez thought back to his years, what his father did to start him on his baseball career.
“He was everything for me. He was one of the greatest men,” the pitcher said. “I remember he bought me my first glove and my first spikes, brought me to the field. He knew that’s what I want to be.”