Royals’ doctor cares for major leaguers and “real” patients

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The doctor responsible for the health of the Kansas City Royals says that's really his side gig. We caught up with Dr. Vincent Key to see his "real" gig and to find out which players he'll be most pleased to see on the field Wednesday evening.

Dr. Key went into surgery at K.U. Hospital's Indian Creek Campus early Wednesday for the first of eight operations, and not all minor ones.

"I have about four total knees today to do. So I tell people I'm not fast. I'm just efficient," said the orthopedic surgeon.

The surgeries were on what Dr. Key calls his "real" patients.

"I tell people all the time they're my real gig," he said.

He planned to arrive at Kauffman Stadium around 5 p.m. to check on his other patients. The Royals' head physician says people are surprised to learn he doesn't sit in the dugout. He is always in close contact with Nick Kenney, the head athletic trainer.

"I actually sit up in the stands, so he has my cell number and in fact, he knows exactly where I sit. We gel so much it's almost symbiotic. I mean I can almost finish his sentence like he can finish mine," said Dr. Key.

Dr. Key says he's only had to go on the field twice in his five years with the Royals. Once was this season when Alex Gordon went down with a serious groin injury.

Much of Dr. Key's work with the Royals is deciding how to treat player injuries at both the major and minor league level. He does plenty of exams, too.

So which of the Royals is he most gratified to see on the field in this post-season? Salvador Perez, for one.

"He gets beat up. I mean that's what he does. And Alex Gordon, given the fact the injury he had this year, and Alex really came back and he's doing fantastic," said Dr. Key.

He adds that all the players make his job easy.

"Because they're all good guys and they care. They care about the fans. They care about us as a training staff."

And Dr. Key says they trust him to do what's best to get and keep them on the diamond.

Dr. Key's MVP? He says definitely his wife, April. They're raising four children.