Royals left-hander Danny Duffy is the scheduled starter Sunday for Team USA for its opening-round World Baseball Classic game against Canada in Miami.
On Saturday, the U.S. takes on the Dominican Republic, which was the homeland of late Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura. In the Dominican dugout will be jerseys of Ventura and Andy Marte, who both died on Jan. 22 in the Dominican Republic.
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Duffy was asked by reporters if seeing that jersey will be emotional for him.
“Absolutely, man,” Duffy told reporters. “I mean, it still hasn’t become real to us. Truthfully, man, I mean I dream about the kid all the time. It’s definitely a tough period, but none of us in that clubhouse, in the Royals clubhouse, has ever been through something like that before. You can’t plan for it, I feel like you have to feel all these emotions in order to get through it and not get past it but get through it, and just band together.
“I loved that kid. He was my little brother. We came up together, and obviously he had that kind of fire that you can’t teach. And he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way but at the end of the day, he always had all of our backs. And sometimes when he started those fires, it would get the boys going.”
Duffy will have Ventura’s No. 30 on the back of his cleats when he takes the mound Sunday.
“I’m doing everything I can to honor him and just play like him,” Duffy told reporters. “So, seeing that jersey is obviously going to be difficult. We get out to Opening Day it’s going to be interesting. To really see how we’re all going to approach it, because everybody grieves in different ways.”