KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Ned Yost spent Monday afternoon in a lounge chair at his farm just outside Atlanta, the pain from a shattered pelvis so unbearable that the only movement the Royals manager could make was to reposition.
He was happy for the pain, though. It reminded him he was alive.
Just over a week ago, Yost was working in a hunting stand on his property when he reached to attach a safety line. The stand somehow collapsed and Yost fell about 20 feet to the ground, and the landing was so hard that he sustained a ”massive fracture” to his pelvis and four broken ribs.
He also lost so much blood that surgeons later told him he nearly died.
”I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation until I was through it,” said the 62-year-old Yost, an avid outdoorsman. ”I’m just glad I had my phone, I’ll tell you that.”
Yost said he can’t put weight on either leg for at least two months, which means he’s confined to his lounge chair or a wheelchair. There are two rods, some plates and screws holding his pelvis together, and a good number of staples that are helping to keep the incision closed.
But he vowed that by spring training, ”I should be pretty much full-go.”
Anybody who knows Yost wouldn’t think otherwise.
The curmudgeonly manager prides himself on his toughness, a trait he’s instilled in the Royals over the years. It served them well in turning around their fortunes, too, from a sad-sack squad that regularly lost 100 games to a team that went to back-to-back World Series and won the championship in 2015.
Still, the injury that Yost sustained tested even his toughness.
Yost said his wife, Deb, had left just after noon on Nov. 4 to attend a nephew’s wedding in Alabama, so he hopped in a four-wheeler and headed out on his property. His intention was to check his tree stands and prepare them for winter, and he took care of the first stand without any problems.
He drove to a second tree stand and climbed up wearing his safety belt. The stand felt solid at first, but as he reached around the tree to clip in, ”it was like a hang-man’s gallows.”
”Down I went,” Yost said. ”I hit on my right side.”
Yost was fortunate that he had his cellphone nearby, and was able to call Deb for help. He’s been in the tree stands before and reached for his phone to find he’d forgotten it, and admits thinking to himself those times, ”That is so stupid! What if something happened?”
Yost’s wife was able to contact 911, then guide responders to where her husband had fallen. Its remote nature and the severity of Yost’s injury meant a helicopter was needed to get him to the hospital.
Once there, doctors resorted to emergency surgery to stop the bleeding, and required eight units of blood to replace what Yost had lost. They also put him in what he described as ”really tight compression pants,” and at one point he told the emergency room doctor that ”you guys are killing me.”
”The guy said, `Look, Ned, this is going to save your life,”’ Yost said.
Yost underwent another surgery the next day to repair the pelvis, and doctors then told him that the fracture was so severe and blood loss so great that 25 percent to 30 percent of similar cases result in death.
”I thought I was going to be fine. Ok, my pelvis is broken. I’m a pretty tough guy. I can handle the pain,” Yost said. ”I mean, it was a little scary getting on that helicopter because I was in so much pain, getting really, really woozy. But I still felt like I was in great hands.
”I’m glad to be alive and I’m glad to be hurting for a little bit.”
Yost, the winningest manager in Royals history, is scheduled to have the staples removed next week and follow-up X-rays on his pelvis. The doctors said he’ll be off his feet for two or three months – ”For me, it’s probably going to be two,” he said – and then have to undergo physical therapy.
Still, he counts himself lucky. The fall could have been fatal, especially if he didn’t have a phone.
”It’s pretty rough, you know? I’m in quite a bit of pain,” he said. ”You can imagine, there’s no position that’s comfortable to be in right now. I don’t think I’ve left this lounge chair since I’ve been home for more than 5 minutes in two days. Just find a way I can be comfortable and relax, and then try not to move for 10 hours. But by spring training, I should be pretty much full-go.”