Injury to pitcher Danny Duffy puts Royals’ rotation in a bind

Danny Duffy

The next time Danny Duffy takes the mound for the Kansas City Royals will be after the All-Star break.

In a season where little has gone right for the Royals, they lost their best starting pitcher with a Grade-One plus oblique strain. Let’s recreate the play that created havoc for the Kansas City rotation.

Duffy’s momentum carried him to the third base side after he delivered a May 28 pitch to Michael Brantley in Cleveland.

Brantley rolled a grounder to Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer to leadoff the Indians’ fifth inning. Danny Duffy had to shift into third gear to catch Hosmer’s toss and beat Brantley to the bag.

“When I was late getting over to cover first, I really tried to bust over there and overran the bag,” Duffy said. “I tried to reach back with my right foot and then tried to take two steps in a row with my left. It was probably the least athletic thing I’ve ever done.”

Duffy’s toe did not touch the bag and Brantley was safe.  Duffy tumbled forward and then knelt on his left knee with his head bowed for a few seconds.

Danny Duffy remained in the game for two more batters, giving up singles to Carlos Santana and Edwin Encarnacion before manager Ned Yost replaced him with Seth Maness.

What looked like an innocuous play at the time turned out to the dreaded oblique injury.

“I tried to brace with my arm,” Duffy said. “I didn’t want this thing (pats left arm) to get hurt. I’m so thankful my arm is fine.”

But his side is not. He felt some discomfort after the game, but the next day reality and extreme pain took over.

“I woke up and I could barely get up,” Duffy said. “It’s a bummer. It happens. It’s baseball.”

A MRI revealed the extent of the damage. With severe oblique injuries there is little a player can do but rest for weeks.

“If I get over there in time, then I do what my instincts take me to do 99 percent of the time, we’re not even talking right now. It’s an out,” Duffy said. “I accept full responsibility for that.

“I’m kicking myself a little more because I didn’t field my position. I take a lot of pride in that. You can’t take it back. All we do is look forward and try to get back as quick as possible.

“Compared to what could be, this is so much more minor and mild to what it could be. It’s just the void I created with this team by getting hurt. It’s beating me up a little bit.”

The void is a team – any team – does not usually plug someone into Duffy’s slot with equal talent ready to pitch in the majors

“He’s going to be out for a while,” Yost said. “This ain’t the first time this has every happened with guys. We’ve experienced injuries before and we’re used to it. It’s part of the game. You just make adjustments and move on.

“It gives us an opportunity to see some of these younger guys with good arms and evaluate where they are. It gives them an opportunity to come up and show us what they’ve got.”

Sixty percent of the Royals’ rotation – Ian Kennedy, Nathan Karns and Duffy – went on the disabled list in May.

Danny Duffy, who was the Royals opening day starter for the first time in his career, is 4-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 11 starts. Duffy is coming off a 2016 season when he went 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA. He established a franchise record with 188 strikeouts for a left-handed pitcher. He also set a club record with 16 strikeouts on August 1 at Tampa Bay.

“I know what I’m capable of doing,” Duffy said. “I’m really starting to come into my own. I can feel it.”

The Royals signed the 28-year-old to a contract extension through 2021 during the off-season. General manager Dayton Moore knew Duffy was a top-of-the-rotation commodity and wanted to make sure he did not hit the free agent market.

But Duffy’s career will be put on hold for a few weeks.

“This stinks, man,” Duffy said. “This is a big time for us to turn around the ship and the boys are going to pick me up. I’ll be fresh and ready to go in six to eight (weeks). I’m going to try to come back sooner than that. I want to win and help the team win.

“I’m very bummed out. I’m going to keep the same mentality and try to keep the boys alive in here and just do my best to be part of it even if I’m not out on the field.”

Duffy is ready for the treatments to commence to speed up the process of returning to the mound.

“Anything they throw at me, my friend,” Duffy said. “If they (medical staff) ask me to do something, I’m going to do it. I want to get back ASAP (as soon as possible). I want to help lead this team. I want to lead this staff. I know Vargy (Jason Vargas) is going to do that. And whoever is going to come in and fills my spot, is going to pick up right where I left off.

“I’m going to keep the same mentality and try to keep the boys alive in here and just do my best to be part of it even if I’m not out on the field.”

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Article by Alan Eskew

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