KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Ned Yost was starving. It was just past 2:50 on Friday afternoon, and the Royals manager was running on two cups of coffee and nothing else.
As he stood inside a street-level convention room at Bartle Hall, waiting to make his annual appearance at Royals FanFest, Yost conceded that his diet — or lack thereof — had become a daily casualty in what he called the busiest offseason of his career. Hunger, it appears, can be a side effect of a championship.
“I haven’t eaten,” Yost said. “I’m telling you; it’s nuts. I’ve been running here, running there.”
All morning Friday, he had hustled about the streets of Kansas City, running errands and delivering food to his son, who was staying at his home here (somehow, a meal had eluded Yost). But as thousands of Royals fans congregated one floor above, Yost was also speaking of his offseason, the hectic months after winning his first World Series as a manager. Yost said his life has turned into a nonstop tour of speaking engagements, coaching clinics, Gold Glove Awards and other responsibilities.
“It’s been nothing near normal,” he said.
In a normal year, Yost said, his ideal offseason includes retreating to his farm in Meriwether County, Ga., and spending four months in the winter quiet, pondering lineup ideas on his tractor and hunting with his crew of friends, including comedian Jeff Foxworthy. The friends call themselves the “Thump Monkeys,” and the winter usually means that Ned is back to join the hunt.
This year, the days on the farm were limited to four or five at a time. The Yosts didn’t even put up a Christmas tree, and the Thump Monkeys were left a man short for much of November and December.
Yost reflected while taking on a loaded schedule, while others took on different routes. Alex Gordon returned to Lincoln, Neb., where he spent time with his young kids, waited out his impending free agency. Yes, Gordon said, he did watch his game-tying homer off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 of the World Series a few times, too.
“It’s kind of hard not to,” Gordon said.
Mike Moustakas went home to Southern California, spending afternoons near or on a golf course, where he worked to iron out what he called a “Tin Cup” swing hitch. Edinson Volquez celebrated at home with family in the Dominican Republic, wishing that his late father, Daniel, who died before Game 1 of the World Series, could be there for one more night, while lefthanded pitcher Danny Duffy splurged for courtside seats at a Lakers-Warriors game, spent time at the barbershop he invested in in his hometown of Lompoc, Calif., and spent hours watching highlights from the 2015 playoffs.
Yost kept close tabs on his team, and what he called the the happiest moment of the past three months came in early January, when Yost learned that Gordon was re-signing.
“It just didn’t make any sense to me,” Yost said, “Gordy putting on another uniform.”
When Gordon agreed to a four-year, $72 million contract, Yost said he was not surprised.
“I asked him,” Yost said of Gordon. “I said: ‘You were going to sign with us no matter what.’ He goes, ‘Yeah.’ ”