One pitch gnawed at Danny Duffy in a 10-1 Royals loss Sunday afternoon. It was an 0-2, hanging slider he left for Colorado Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson, who lofted what Duffy called an "Arizona home run," the sort of wind-assisted job that infuriates pitchers.
The environment vexed him, but he could only blame himself. Duffy understands the consequences of misplaced offspeed pitches.
Otherwise, he felt heartened by his efforts. He looked efficient and effective, needing only 37 pitches to complete three innings. The homer was the only run he allowed. He struck out one and walked none.
“A lot of pluses from today,” Duffy said.
In the last two days, the Royals reduced the fifth-starter competition to a two-man race: Duffy and Yordano Ventura. In the early going, Ventura appears to hold the advantage. But there is plenty of time for Duffy to make an impression.
Duffy needed seven pitches to complete the first. His second inning featured more trouble. Shortstop Paul Janish ripped a leadoff single, stole second and took third on a wild pitch. But Duffy stranded him. The critical at-bat came with one out, when Duffy fanned Drew Stubbs with a slider.
“He was on the attack,” manager Ned Yost said. “Good stuff. Stayed within himself.”
Dickerson went deep in the third to add to Colorado’s advantage. The Rockies ambushed starter Bruce Chen in the first inning. He gave up a single and a double, then left a sinker over the middle of the plate for catcher Willin Rosario. The result was a two-run single.
But after that, Chen buckled down and completed three innings.Arms race
The team has not released its pitching schedule past Monday, in part because they need to settle who will still be in big-league camp by then. The cuts may not come until after Tuesday, because the team has a minor-league game scheduled. But the clubhouse should clear out a bit in the coming days.Medical updates
Omar Infante went 1-for-3 with a walk as the designated hitter, and the team still hopes he’ll play second base on Monday. Yost is unsure the exact definition of Infante’s shoulder injury. Infante said he had “inflammation.” Yost called it “rotator cuff weakness, and it just gets a little sore back there.”
Kyle Zimmer, the team’s top pitching prospect, has not progressed past long-tossing 90 feet in his throwing program. He has yet to throw off a mound. His start was delayed due to a bout of biceps tendinitis during the winter. Zimmer said he has not suffered a setback, and feels strong. But he understands he is likely to begin the year in extended spring, rather than with a minor-league club.Etc.
Jeremy Guthrie completed his simulated game on Saturday without any trouble. He gave up two runs, one earned, on three hits and a walk in three innings. On Sunday morning, he discussed his designation as the team’s starter in their home opener.
“It’s a great honor to be able to pitch in front of what will be a huge crowd, and an excited crowd for our new season,” Guthrie said. “I’m grateful that he gave me that opportunity.”Up next
He spent many years pitching in the Grapefruit League, so James Shields has no qualms about the Arizona travel. He’ll go with his team to Peoria to face the Mariners. The game starts at 3:05 p.m. Central, and will be broadcast on 610 Sports.Quote
“I told him afterward, I said, ‘Look, every pitcher on our staff I give a mulligan to at the beginning of spring training. Would you like to use yours?’ He said, ‘Yes, sir, I surely would.’” — Ned Yost, on Michael Mariot’s rocky ninth inning, when he four runs.