On most days, Royals manager Ned Yost is the first one to arrive here to the clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium. The room is still dark then, the lockers empty. For a moment, Yost says, he’ll walk into the room and pause to remember Yordano Ventura.
“I’ll go over and I’ll turn on all the lights and I’ll walk around the clubhouse,” Yost said. “and I always kind of stop at his locker for a second … just look at the pictures.”
The tradition began during the early weeks of the season. The memory came on Saturday morning, on what would have been Ventura’s 26th birthday. More than four months after his death on a Jan. 22 car crash in his native Dominican Republic, the Royals remembered Ventura once more on Saturday.
First baseman Eric Hosmer posted a birthday message to his Instagram account, writing: “Miss you more and more everyday buddy.” Catcher Salvador Perez followed suit.
“I think we’re all subconsciously, or even a little bit consciously, reminded of him every single day,” Yost said, sitting inside his office during a pregame interview with reporters. “You try to push out the memories of the cemetery where he’s buried and where he’s at now, compared to where he was back then. I think it’s what I always try to do.”