Royals left-hander Danny Duffy aiming for 200 innings

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APRIL 2015 – For Danny Duffy the 2014 spring training was in a word AWFUL. Duffy had a chance to break camp on the Kansas City Royals’ roster, but instead he pitched his way to Triple-A Omaha. A spring training ERA of 11.45 in six appearances will do that. In 11 innings, Duffy allowed 15 runs, 14 earned, on 16 hits, three of them home runs. On top of that, he walked six and hit two batters. That is 24 base runners in 11 innings.

When Duffy was recalled after one start with the Storm Chasers, he was put in the Royals’ bullpen for his first six appearances.

When Duffy reported to camp, he jokingly said his goal was to have a single-digit ERA.

“The start of the year was unconventional for me last year,” Duffy said. “It gave me a bad taste in my mouth. I feel like I know what I’m doing now for the most part as far as how much I have to learn, what I’ve learned and what I need to execute now. I feel great. This spring is different than any other spring I’ve ever had.”

Duffy has pitched much better this March and is penciled in to be the No. 2 starter behind right-hander Yordano “Ace” Ventura. Duffy has called it his best spring training.

“I don’t want it to get twisted up,” Duffy said. “I definitely know there is urgency, but I just feel like I gained lot of confidence during the year last year and doing what we did, going about our business. I feel like I can come in get my work in as opposed to trying to make the club, the last possible spot.”

surplusexchange.orgDuffy was 9-12, which belies his 2.53 ERA. He received the lowest run support in the American League among starters with a minimum of 25 starts 3.38 runs per nine innings. He limited opponents to a .209 batting average, while left-handers hit a paltry .137 off him. At Kauffman Stadium, he limited hitters to a .185 batting average, but was only 2-4 at home.

Duffy, a 2007 third-round pick out of high school, appeared to be confident in past seasons.

“I think it more like a chip on my shoulder and almost like a false – I was kind of putting up a front as to how I thought I had so much figured out but then I realized how little I had figured out,” Duffy said. “You let your raw ability take over, but you have to learn from everything you do cause if you don’t the game is going to pass you up.

“The ability has always kind of been there, I think but it’s just kind of execution that hasn’t and the mindset that hasn’t been there always.”

Duffy, 26, underwent reconstructive left elbow surgery on June 13, 2012 after making six starts. He rehabbed most of 2013 before making five late-season starts in the majors.

“Last year, a year coming off my Tommy John surgery, I felt like I learned a lot,” Duffy said. “I was able to put into place what I learned.”

Duffy did not have an injury free 2014. He left a Sept. 6 outing at Yankee Stadium after just one pitch with left shoulder stiffness. He pitched just eight innings in September. In the postseason, he was not in the rotation, but was limited to three relief appearances because of an injury.

“I had a stress fracture in my rib, a torn intercostal,” Duffy said. “I think it was overthrowing. There was no impact at all at any point. It just got progressively worse from about mid-September on. There was nothing I could have done about it.

“I had quiet the workload last year compared to years previous. I don’t think I had any workload compared to (James) Shields or (Jeremy) Guthrie, what they do every year. But for me it was a lot more than I’ve ever done. I think that kind of contributed to that injury I had in the postseason.”

Duffy threw 149 2/3 innings last season in the regular season and another 4 2/3 in October. He recalled pitching in the opening game of the World Series.

“I had anti-inflammatories just at the right time and I was able to go three innings, but that night it was hard to breathe. I couldn’t sleep on one side,” he said. “Game Four I was feeling it immediately when I came off the field. I didn’t feel it during. I didn’t feel great, but it wasn’t something I couldn’t play through or something where I couldn’t help my team. I felt like I could go.”

Duffy’s goal is to throw 200-innings this season. He weighed 187 when the World Series ended. He reported to spring training at 212 pounds.

“I’ve put on a pretty good amount of weight coming into camp, so I could just try to achieve that without everything kind of breaking down,” he said. “Lot of gym work, lot of core (exercises) and eating right was the biggest for me. I’m changing my diet a little bit. I ate small portions and a lot more meals a day. Everything I ate was good for me.”

For Duffy to reach his workload objective, he will have to go deeper into game. He pitched seven innings in only five starts last year. He has often been criticized for getting his pitch count up early, which leads to earlier exits.

“I think that ship kind of left the dock last year,” Duffy said. “I’ve heard that since I was 18. Quite honestly, I got tired of it, so we fixed it. And hopefully people don’t say anything about that anymore because that doesn’t define me at all. I’ve gotten into the seventh and even pitched into the eighth a couple of times last year with the restrictions I had the first year off Tommy John, so they took care of me. A couple of times I’m in the eighth under a 100 pitches. I’m not saying that’s doing something great, but for me it was a lot better than I used to be.

“Keep in mind that I started in the pen last year. I even started in the minors and still got up there to about 150 (innings). That’s not where I want to be, but I’m proud of that mark. I’ll build on that. I want a couple of hundred innings this year. I think that would be the best way for me to be the best for this team, take the ball the every fifth day and getting into the seventh regularly.”

Article by Alan Eskew

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