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Volquez to start possible clincher after dad’s death

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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.”

Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakes, Chris Young and the rest of the Royals greeted Volquez when he returned.

“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.”

Sign-stealing penalties could be ‘unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history’

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Early this morning we learned that Major League Baseball was planning to talk to former Astros Carlos Beltrán and Alex Cora as part of the sign-stealing investigation. Late this morning Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the investigation is, actually, going to go much wider than that.

Passan reports that Major League Baseball will not limit its focus to the 2017 Astros, who were the subject of the report in The Athletic on Tuesday. Rather, it will also include members of the 2019 Astros and will extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentions the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Oh, it also includes recently-fired Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, who the league plans to interview but who, Passan says, has hired a lawyer. Which is sort of interesting in its own right, but let’s stay on topic.

Passan:

The league is attempting to cull tangible evidence from the widespread paranoia of front offices and teams around the game about others cheating and has indicated it will consider levying long suspensions against interviewees who are found to have lied, sources said . . . The penalties for illegal activity are determined by commissioner Rob Manfred, though if the league can prove wrongdoing, the severity could be unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history, sources said.

The Cardinals were fined $2 million when an employee, Chris Correa, hacked the Astros computer system. Correa, of course, was permanently banned from baseball and served prison time. Former Braves GM John Coppolella was likewise given a permanent ban for lying about the team’s circumvention of international signing rules. If Passan’s source is right and the league is going to level heavy penalties here, that’s where you have to start, I imagine.

To me, the stuff about Coppolella’s lying and the bit about interviewees lying mentioned in the block quote is key.

Will anyone have the hammer brought down upon them for being responsible for stealing signs? Hard to say. But they likely will if they are not forthcoming with league investigators. Which is actually a pretty decent way to handle things when one is conducting an internal investigation. Maybe you don’t give amnesty to wrongdoers in the name of information-gathering, but you do signal to them that cooperation is incentivized and lack of cooperation will be punished.

It’s an approach, by the way, that Major League Baseball notably did not take in the course of its PED investigations a decade ago. That led to a final report that had massive gaps in information and caused the league to focus on and publicize only the lowest-hanging fruit. As I argued at the time, if information-gathering, as opposed to P.R. considerations was its true aim, MLB would’ve handled it differently.

In the early stages here, in contrast, it does sound like baseball is taking this seriously. That’s a good thing.