Colon moved by Ventura tributes at FanFest

Royals infielder shared special bond, gold chain with late pitcher

Colon moved by Ventura tributes at FanFest

KANSAS CITY -- For Royals infielder Christian Colon, the team's annual FanFest came at right about the perfect time.

Colon was one of Yordano Ventura's closest teammates. They spent a good deal of time together in the Minors. And they talked for hours at a time in the big leagues.

Ventura died on Sunday morning in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.

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"It's good to be here with the teammates and the fans," Colon said. "Otherwise, I'd be home thinking about it.

"Personally, seeing everyone here, hugging my teammates and coaches, it's been great. A lot of guys showed up. So far it's been great to see everyone and have the support of the fans. It definitely has helped a lot."

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Colon made his way to the special memorial tribute in one corner off the main floor of FanFest. The tribute featured video replays of Ventura's greatest starts, huge posters of Ventura, a mound with a framed Ventura jersey positioned on the rubber, and two separate walls where fans could sign and say goodbye to Ventura.

Colon said he especially was moved by the tribute.

"He's no longer here," Colon said. "That's the reality of it.

"But I saw those pictures of him at the tribute. He had a chain in a lot of the pictures. It's actually my chain. We went back and forth -- he'd use it and then give it back. Then he'd say, 'I'll never give it back.' Then last year at the end of the season when he gave it back, he said he'd get it again in Spring Training.

"I thought about that. I still have it. I was ready to give it to him. So seeing the pictures of him at the tribute wearing it is pretty cool."

But Colon said it's also sad knowing that when he gets to Spring Training in two weeks, he won't be giving the chain back to Ventura.

"That's something I'm trying to avoid thinking about for now," Colon said, "at least until I really have to face it, knowing No. 30 is not going to be there. His funny personality, his stubbornness, that's not going to be there.

"It's hard, but we'll get through it together. I'm sure we'll tell stories when we get together."

Colon did leave a message for Ventura on the wall inside the tribute:

"I just kept it simple -- 'Yo, you will always be my brother. I will always love you. Rest in peace.'"

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.