Opinion

Danny Duffy, Kris Medlen impress in simulated game at Kauffman Stadium

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy (41) throws a simulated game before Thursday's baseball game against the Cleveland Indians on June 4, 2015 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy (41) throws a simulated game before Thursday's baseball game against the Cleveland Indians on June 4, 2015 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Inspiration struck Danny Duffy as he watched Wade Davis have a catch on Wednesday afternoon. As he rebuilds arm strength following a bout of shoulder stiffness, Duffy is also searching for a cure for his inconsistency. Duffy believes he has found it, mimicking Davis’ over-the-head delivery in a three simulated innings on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Duffy said before the Royals finished their series with Cleveland. “I’ve never done it before. I wasn’t allowed to do it in Little League or anything else. So I’m pumped about it.”

Armed with his tweaked delivery, Duffy shared the mound with Kris Medlen, who is nearing the final stages of a comeback from his second Tommy John surgery. Both threw 45 pitches spread across 15-pitch frames. They faced teammates like outfielder Jarrod Dyson and pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. It was a productive outing for a pair of pitchers on the disabled list.

Kansas City Royals pitcher Danny Duffy after pitching a simulated game on Thursday.

Kansas City Royals pitcher Kris Medlen after throwing a simulated Game at Kauffman Stadium.

Neither Duffy nor Medlen has a precise role waiting for them with the club. But both are expected to contribute this summer. The dueling performance on Thursday left manager Ned Yost gushing.

“Fantastic. Both of them,” Yost said. “The ball was exploding out of Duffy’s hand. He commanded the ball with good breaking stuff. Medlen, the same way. Really good fastball, good sinker. Good four-seamer, good two-seamer, good change-up. Really nice curveball.”

Yost indicated Duffy likely will throw a bullpen session on Saturday. After that, he is bound for a rehabilitation assignment.

Duffy expressed confidence that the soreness has departed his shoulder. But he indicated he still requires time to build up arm strength. He found himself tiring during his third inning on Thursday.

“I would love to be back as soon as possible,” Duffy said. “But the pitching staff’s been doing pretty well. I definitely need to get my arm strength back up. I definitely need to get more conditioned. It takes time.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Duffy suggested to pitching coach Dave Eiland the potential alteration to his delivery. Duffy had given up 14 runs in his previous 9 2/3 innings. He failed to repeat his delivery and lost the handle of his command.

“He’s taking his hands over his head,” Eiland said. “That’s going to help him stay over the rubber longer, and get his hand out of his glove on time. Better balance and separation over the rubber, which should help him.”   

Medlen is expected to return to Arizona for his next throwing session. He visited the team during this homestand because renovations have begun at the team’s complex in Surprise, and the organization is currently moving their equipment across the valley to Papago Park in Phoenix.

General manager Dayton Moore indicated Medlen would expand his pitch count to five innings before beginning a rehabilitation assignment. That should occur in the next two weeks. From there, Medlen could join the club in some capacity by July.

The organization harbors high hopes for Medlen. The man himself also aches to provide for his club. As he departed the mound on Thursday, he tipped his cap to the thousands of empty seats at Kauffman Stadium.

“You didn’t see the standing ovation?” Medlen said. “Just having fun. I never want to take this for granted. I love being here. I love the teammates. And I love having a good time. So I tipped my cap to my invisible peeps.”

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @McCulloughStar.

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