Ventura pregame tribute slated for Monday

Monday's ceremony to include late pitcher's mother throwing out first pitch

Ventura pregame tribute slated for Monday

HOUSTON -- Christian Colon felt he lost a little brother when Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in January.

Danny Duffy still has dreams of Ventura.

Raul Mondesi felt like he lost a best friend.

Individually, Royals players and coaches are preparing for Monday's home opener at Kaufman Stadium knowing the hardest part will be the special pregame ceremony remembering Ventura.

"It will be emotional," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "I think everyone will react differently. It will hit us all differently."

Right-hander Chris Young said that is to be expected.

"Everyone grieves differently," Young said. "There are no guidelines to get through it, no playbook. But at least we'll be together as a team with our fans."

Marisol Hernandez, Ventura's mother, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. And the waterworks likely will flow immediately.

"I don't know how I'll react," Colon said. "It's going to be tough."

While several players such as Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and catcher Salvador Perez, and manager Ned Yost and general manager Dayton Moore attended Ventura's funeral in the Dominican Republic, Colon couldn't bring himself to attend.

"It would have been just too hard," Colon said. "But I'll never forget him."

Mondesi remembered Ventura as a Spring Training roommate and a close friend.

"We could talk about anything," Mondesi said. "He was the first guy to talk to me after I signed with the Royals and we stayed friends ever since. I miss him."

Upon returning from the World Baseball Classic, Duffy shared with reporters a dream he had about Ventura the night before he was to pitch in San Diego.

In the dream, Duffy and Ventura were talking and smiling as if nothing had happened. Then Duffy remembers saying to Ventura, "Why did you have to leave us?"

"It was weird, man," Duffy said, his eyes filling with tears. "None of us will forget him."

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