KANSAS CITY -- Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez returned to his native Dominican Republic last November a World Series champion.
Everywhere Volquez went, he was recognized and cheered.
"It was crazy," he said Saturday at Royals FanFest.
But in the back of his mind, Volquez knew there was one person missing from the celebration -- his father, Daniel, who passed away hours before Volquez pitched Game 1 of the World Series. Volquez pitched without knowing of his father's death. Royals officials told him after the game, at the request of his wife.
Volquez is still trying to cope with the loss of the man who bought him his first baseball glove. His father's passing remain prominent in his mind.
"It's still there," Volquez said. "I'm getting better with it. One thing I've had to learn is how to live with it. It's still deep in there. It's hard."
So, while fans throughout the offseason have greeted him and patted him on his back, Volquez said there was still some emptiness.
"It was sad," Volquez said. "He was always there for me. To go back to the Dominican and not have him there, it's really hard. But I'm good with it. I think I'm doing a good job with it."
Volquez has been falling back on his training program to ease the loss.
"Been working hard every day, man," he said.
And Volquez has a singular purpose this year -- help the Royals repeat as World Series champions, in honor of his father.
The start of that mission may include being manager Ned Yost's Opening Day starter. It would be easy to make a case for Volquez, who went 13-9 with a 3.55 ERA in the regular season. He also gave up just four earned runs in two World Series starts.
But Volquez, who has had three Opening Day starts, isn't exactly thrilled with the notion of another Opening Day nod.
"I don't like it anymore," he said. "I like to enjoy the Opening Day -- all the shows, the fans. But if you pitch, you don't get much of a chance to enjoy it. You've got to work, go to the bullpen and work the game.
"We'll see. I say that right now, but I might change my mind if I get a chance to pitch on Opening Day."
Volquez reminded reporters that he is a notorious bad Spring Training pitcher, so if Yost uses those numbers as a qualifier, Volquez said he won't even be asked. Volquez had a 6.33 ERA last spring.
"If you go with the numbers, you know what happens with me in Spring Training," Volquez said, laughing. "You saw what happened last year, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before. I'm not really good in Spring Training. [Yost] might change his mind."
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.