Danny Duffy completed a productive, four-inning outing with Class AAA Omaha on Tuesday, but he could be still two weeks away from rejoining the Royals.
Manager Ned Yost relayed the schedule set for Duffy’s next three outings, which will gradually build his pitch count up to 100. On Sunday, he will throw 65 pitches. On June 19, his assignment calls for five to six innings and 80 to 85 pitches. On June 24, Yost said, Duffy should throw 100 pitches across six or seven innings.
At that point, if Duffy (2-3, 5.87 ERA) is performing at a level the Royals find sufficient, he will rejoin the big-league rotation. But so much could go awry with the rotation in the intervening weeks, so Yost indicated he reserves the right to recall Duffy at any moment. Yost, of course, would prefer Duffy to stretch out.
“We want him to be able to throw 100 pitches when he comes back,” Yost said before Wednesday’s game against the Twins.
He added, “If he’s not throwing good, I’m not putting him back in the rotation. But if he’s throwing good, and doing what I fully expect to do, yeah, he’s going back in the rotation.”
Duffy has not pitched since May 16. The team put him on the disabled list due to inflammation in his left shoulder.
On paper, Duffy gives the Royals six starters. Yost has hinted the team knows how to navigate this issue. But he will not reveal their strategy. The only pitchers in the rotation with minor-league options are Duffy and Yordano Ventura. The team may shift Chris Young, who is 4-2 with a 2.48 ERA as a starter, back to the bullpen.
“We’ve got a lot of options,” Yost said. “And I’m not talking about any of them right now. Because I’m not speculating on things that are way down the road. It starts to involve players in the room . . . We don’t do that. There’s lives in there.
“So we don’t speculate on what we’re going to do until we do it.”