The Kansas City Royals will play their first home game of the season Monday. In most cases, this would be cause for the usual opening day pomp and circumstance we find at MLB stadiums across the land. In Kansas City, however, things will be a bit more somber.
That’s because the first home game of the season is also the first home game without pitcher Yordano Ventura, who died in an offseason car accident in the Dominican Republic. The 25-year-old with the electric fastball will be remembered fondly throughout the game vs. the Oakland Athletics, which you can stream free right here on Yahoo Sports. It’s our MLB Free Game of the Day, which you can find on the Yahoo Sports MLB page or this very post. First pitch is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. ET.
The Royals paying tribute to Yordano Ventura on the day of their home opener. pic.twitter.com/Bcijw7WeVD— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 10, 2017
As Kauffman Stadium staff prepped for the game, the Royals honored Ventura with an “Ace 30” cover on the pitching mound. That matches the patches the Royals are wearing on their jerseys this season. That’s just the start of it, though.
Ventura will be remembered in a pregame ceremony that will include a moment of silence and a video tribute. His mother and grandfather will be in attendance and Ventura’s mother, Marisol Hernandez, is scheduled to throw out the first pitch.
It’s been three months now since Ventura’s death, but it still weighs heavily on the team. Looking ahead to Monday’s ceremony, first baseman Eric Hosmer told MLB.com:
“It will be emotional,” Hosmer said. “I think everyone will react differently. It will hit us all differently.”
For more on how the Royals are grieving after Ventura’s death, read this fantastic Kansas City Star piece from Rustin Dodd.