Danny Duffy is coming off the finest season of his career, a breakthrough year that saw him finish 12-3, post a 3.51 ERA and solidify his status as a frontline member of the Royals’ starting staff.
Now he’s poised to channel that success to a new avenue.
Duffy is set to pitch for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, he confirmed to The Star on Sunday. While his specific role — and potential workload — remains uncertain, Duffy said, for now, he plans to don the red, white and blue when the United States opens the international event at Marlins Park in early March.
"Definitely excited to wear those colors," Duffy told The Star in a text message.
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The rosters for the WBC do not need to be official until January, so players can be added — or opt out of the event — until that time. In a report published earlier this month, Joel Sherman of the New York Post said Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer was on a preliminary list of 50 players for Team USA, which also included Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander, Tampa Bay right-hander Chris Archer, Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado, Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Indians reliever Andrew Miller, Boston left-hander David Price and Giants catcher Buster Posey, among others.
The 2017 World Baseball Classic is the fourth installment of the every-four-years international event, which takes place during the month before the regular season. The United States has not finished in the top three in the three previous events.
In addition to Team USA, Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar and catcher Salvador Perez are expected to be candidates to play for Venezuela. Reserve catcher Drew Butera is also expected to play for Team Italy.
Duffy, 27, has posted a 3.71 career ERA in parts of six seasons with the Royals. He is set to become a free agent after the 2017 season. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012 and returning in 2013, he posted a 2.53 ERA during the 2014 season before finishing 2015 in the bullpen.
He returned to the starting rotation in May and threw a career-high 179 2/3 innings in 2016.