ST. LOUIS — Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez paid tribute to the late pitchers Yordano Ventura and Oscar Taveras Sunday night.
In the Cardinals’ Opening Day, the 25-year-old pitcher took the field and scrawled in the dirt the numbers 18 and 30 on the back of the mound.
It was a touching tribute from a fellow Dominican major leaguer and friend of both Ventura and Taveras — a Cardinals teammate.
Fox Sports highlighted the relationship between Martinez and Ventura during a 2015 I-70 series.
“Obviously, I’m older than him,” Ventura once said (through a translator) when asked about Martinez. “I mess with him all the time. I tell him, ‘Hey, you’ve got to listen to me, you know, I’m older than you.’”
The two grew up two hours away from each other in the Dominican Republic, but didn’t meet until the reached the U.S.
They maintained a good relationship from that point on, and would sometimes crash at each other’s apartments when playing in each other’s city, Fox Sports reported.
Their bond would be strengthened over their mutual loss when Oscar Taveras died in a car crash in 2014. Ventura would famously pay tribute to Taveras by writing his number on his hat in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series.
Martinez even gave Yordano a shout-out on Twitter when the Royals signed him to a five-year deal.
“I saw the tweet and I called him right away,” Ventura told Fox Sports. “I called Carlos and we got to talk for about an hour or so. Just talked about different things.”
Their friendship would continue until Ventura’s death on Jan. 22, but clearly, the respect Martinez has for his fellow countrymen continues.