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Duffy still grappling with loss of friend Ventura

MLB.com

MIAMI -- It's been almost seven weeks since he heard the news, but the shock of losing close friend Yordano Ventura remains fresh to Danny Duffy.

The Royals left-hander admitted on Friday that he still sees Ventura when he closes his eyes.

MIAMI -- It's been almost seven weeks since he heard the news, but the shock of losing close friend Yordano Ventura remains fresh to Danny Duffy.

The Royals left-hander admitted on Friday that he still sees Ventura when he closes his eyes.

"I mean, it still hasn't become real to us," Duffy said before Team USA's opener in the World Baseball Classic. "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."

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

Duffy is slated to start for Team USA against Canada on Sunday. But he knows that at some point on Saturday night he'll see Ventura's No. 30 jersey hanging in the Dominican Republic dugout, alongside one for Andy Marte, when the D.R. plays Team USA.

The two Major Leaguers died in separate auto accidents in January in the Dominican Republic.

Ventura and Duffy came up together in the Royals' farm system. They were on the field together celebrating the World Series victory over the Mets in 2015, as well as suffering through the Game 7 loss to the Giants the year before.

Ventura's emotions sometimes got the best of him on the field, but Duffy says his heart was always in the right place.

"I loved that kid," he said. "He was my little brother. We came up together, and obviously, he had that kind of fire that you can't teach. 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 has Ventura's No. 30 written on the back of his spikes.

"I'm doing everything I can to honor him and just play like him," he said. "So seeing that jersey is obviously going to be difficult. We get out to Opening Day [in Kansas City], it's going to be interesting to really see how we're all going to approach it, because everybody grieves in different ways."

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Phil Rogers is a national columnist for MLB.com.

United States, Kansas City Royals, Danny Duffy