These days, Royals starter Danny Duffy feels good. The pain from his strained oblique is gone. The muscle feels fully healed. The only thing left now, he says, is to finish out the rehab process and build up the requisite pitch count needed to start a major-league game.
That process continued Tuesday afternoon as Duffy faced live hitters during a 40-pitch session on the field at Kauffman Stadium. Duffy is scheduled to log a similar — but longer — session on Friday. He could head out on a rehab assignment next week. Barring setbacks, he is on a rough timeline to re-join the Royals’ rotation at, or shortly after, the All-Star break.
“It’s just about building up now,” Duffy said. “I understand you have to have patience when it comes to this kind of injury, but if they asked me to go today, I’d be ready to go on a rehab assignment.”
Duffy has been on the disabled list since sustaining an oblique strain while covering first base in Cleveland on May 28. Once he departs on a rehab stint, he will likely need three starts to build up his pitch count, Royals manager Ned Yost said. He would begin with a three-inning or 45-pitch outing and build up to five innings or 75 pitches in his third start.
“Anything past then we can deal with,” Yost said of Duffy’s return. “So where that is, I don’t know.”
The return will likely come in the second or third week of July, but it could be later if the Royals choose caution. The All-Star break begins on July 10. The Royals will open the second half of the season on July 14. For now, Duffy said he feels like he is still ahead of schedule.
“I feel like I could definitely get going on this a little bit quicker,” he said. “Obviously, you never want to put the carriage before the horse. But I feel like I’m ready to go.”