We spend 162 games with Royals players, laugh at their post-game interviews, follow them on social media. Maybe a few of you have even been lucky enough to have met a Royals player once. But we certainly don’t know them as people.
Heck, we have friends and acquaintances in our lives we see on a daily basis we don’t really know. Behind the veneer of everyday life, the mask we put on each day to face the world, there are secrets, sometimes dark secrets, everyone bears the burden of hiding. In an exhaustive piece by Vahe Gregorian and Maria Torres at the Kansas City Star, we learn that the brilliant young phenom who was taken away from us much too soon - Yordano Ventura - had a turbulent personal life leading up to his tragic death.
Yordano Ventura was estranged from his mother, Marisol - he hadn’t spoken to her in almost a year. His mother blames the estrangement on María del Pilar Sangiovanni, a woman Yordano had gotten involved with rather quickly, over social media, who he ended up marrying, just as she was finalizing her own divorce. Sangiovanni denies the claims, saying the couple split up last summer, and Yordano continued his estrangement from his mother.
From the piece it seemed fame and success were difficult for young Yordano to handle. He put an immense amount of pressure on himself and found himself the target of some disturbing incidents. In March of 2016, Sangiovanni claimed two men came to the door of their Arizona home looking for Yordano, threatening to kill him. In April of that year, Yordano reported property damage to his car in Kansas City with the threat “we will be back for you” written in Spanish, scratched into his car.
Most heartbreaking is the allegation that Ventura may have attempted suicide about that time
Ventura did not travel with the Royals on a trip days later to San Antonio and was said to have flu-like symptoms. He did not pitch again in a game until March 24.
Sometime in between, Ventura spent a few days in an area hospital. Sangiovanni said he had attempted suicide by ingesting at least 10 Benadryl pills and four doses of another medication and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
Citing federal patient-privacy regulations, the Royals declined comment.
The burden of fame, money, and the pressure to perform at the highest level can be too much for most grown men, let alone a young 20-something kid in a foreign country. The piece is difficult, emotionally, to read, but it is well worth it, to try to understand the demons Yordano was going through.
“‘I sometimes wish I was still driving around town in my grandpa’s truck,’” Sarante recently recalled him saying, “‘and that I wasn’t Yordano Ventura.’”