Royals manager Ned Yost says Danny Duffy is “really, really on top of his game.”
For some of the dads traveling with the Royals as part of the annual father-son road trip, it’s a new experience. For Dan Duffy, the father of Sunday’s starting pitcher, Danny, it’s another trek to Southern California to root for the left-hander who shares his name and try to find a sense of calm as he watches his son navigate nerve-racking situations.
Danny Duffy, who was drafted out of Cabrillo High School in California in 2007, starts Sunday’s matinee against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium, and he’ll try to end a four-game losing slide for the Royals and avoid a three-game sweep.
“Every time he pitches, the juices get flowing a little bit and I get excited,” Dan Duffy said on Saturday. “It’s hard. I’ve just got to calm myself down.”
Dan, who retired from coaching high school basketball this year, coached his son through Little League up until he was about 12 years old. When Danny went on to Babe Ruth, Dan stepped aside and let others handle the coaching.
Father and son still play basketball together in the offseason, though the closest they get to one-on-one games of years past is an occasional game of H-O-R-S-E.
Dan made the drive of a little more than three hours on Friday to join the rest of the fathers with their sons on the road. The dads have been fixtures in the clubhouse and in the dugout prior to the games, and they took batting practice on the field on Saturday afternoon.
Of course, those were relaxed days for Dan. It’s quite different every fifth day, especially when he’s watching in the stadium.
“We came on one of these Father’s Day trips one time, and I watched Jason Vargas’ dad, Joe Vargas, watch Jason pitch,” Dan said. “I look over and he’s just calm and kicking back and watching, not saying a word. No reaction.
“I said, ‘Joe. God, how?’”
The elder Vargas summed it up simply. Only one of three things is going to happen. Either he’ll get the win, he’ll get the loss or he’ll get a no-decision.
“The rest of it is just baseball,” Dan remembers the elder Vargas telling him. “Sit back and enjoy the ride if you can.”
Dan has tried to grab onto that mentality and adopt the same approach, but it’s not easy.
“Sometimes you’ve got to step back and say OK,” Dan said. “When you’re worried that something bad is going to happen, all of a sudden he’ll find a way to get out of it. I just try to enjoy the ride because it’s not going to last forever. I just try to have as much fun as he’s having playing baseball.”