“I try to help as much as I can,” he finally says, after thinking it over. “Because, I love her.”
But the nice moments, the ones of her smiling face captured in photographs, often mask her reality. Fatigue attacks without warning. Memorizing things in school in Venezuela is a challenge. She used to be an avid dancer. She can’t anymore. She goes to school on days she feels up to it and takes Coumadin each day to keep her blood thin and so it won’t clot.
Another surgery is inevitable. But the consult alone cost several thousand dollars.
This spring, Ramos — who makes $491,250, just over the league minimum — weighed asking his teammates for financial assistance. Fourteen Nationals will make over $1 million this season, but it wasn’t a precedent he wanted to set, looking for a handout. After giving what he could, he felt he had to try, if only once.
“Wilson knows that if he needs anything or has any questions, he can come right out and ask,” said Zimmerman, who made a point at the end of a team meeting the day Ramos spoke with him to inform his teammates of the situation and leave a shoe box at one end of the clubhouse open for donations.
“With things like that it’s like, ‘Hey, if you want to give something, great.’ You don’t have to but, you know, any time one of our teammates has someone they obviously care about, it’s easy for us to give. It goes a long way for that family.”
A final fix?
They raised over $3,500 for Vicky’s doctor visit. Her mother’s voice breaks telling the story. But even that act of goodwill led to another bill. Vicky is suffering now from an aortic valve insufficiency, a problem similar to the mitral issue in which blood moves backward into the heart instead of away from it. Surgery will fix it, they hope for good, but Mata, a single mother, fears the hospital will refuse to operate until her previous bill has been paid in full.
“We made an appointment for July,” she said, staring at her $110,000 balance, hopeful more money can be raised by then. “And I know they are going to tell me we must set the appointment for the surgery. But I don’t know what I am going to do.”
Ramos will undergo an operation on his torn right anterior cruciate ligament Friday in Colorado, the latest turn in an eight-month stretch since the end of his rookie season that has been harrowing and painful. But he will get through it. He will return to the field. He will continue to distance himself from a year he’d likely prefer to forget.
When he worries, he thinks of Vicky, who is facing the dangerous prospect of a third major surgery in less than two years. He knows she needs more help than even he can provide.
“Every time when I see her, she’s got a big smile on her face,” he said. “That’s pretty good.”
• For those wishing to help, donations can be sent to Miami Children’s Hospital, P.O. Box 862192, Orlando, FL, 32886, earmarked for “Victoria Cabrera, Acct. #: 4856804, Attn: Payment Financial Services, Maria Coro.”