Royals’ Danny Duffy encouraged after latest simulated game; Soler moves in lineup

Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy could be activated from the injured list after having thrown a four-inning simulated game Tuesday afternoon in Baltimore.

Duffy threw four innings and 65 pitches in his second simulated outing since the injury. He threw a two-inning outing on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.

Royals manager Ned Yost said Duffy threw well, and that they’d re-evaluate their options depending on how Duffy felt Wednesday.

Another simulated game is possible but seems unlikely. The decision to activate Duffy and return him to the rotation will be made in the coming days.

“I felt good,” Duffy said. “Towards the end I just need to fine-tune a few things. I’m building up right now, so that’s the expected outcome. I haven’t talked to (pitching coach) Cal Eldred and Ned about a plan going forward, but I’m definitely encouraged with how my arm felt and how my hamstring felt.”

Duffy went on the IL because of a strained left hamstring Aug. 6. The left-hander sustained the injury while running sprints in the outfield in Boston between his scheduled starts. Duffy’s most recent start came on Aug. 3 in Minnesota.

The days immediately after his injury, Duffy moved gingerly. He did play catch and throw bullpen sessions before his first simulated outing. Monday was his first day jogging since the injury, which is on his push-off leg.

“I haven’t sprinted,” Duffy said. “I haven’t really gotten after it. Probably the most I’ve ran was at 80%. That’s pushing it. I don’t want to re-aggravate it. I don’t want to put anything else in question.

“I’m doing everything I have to do to get back, but I want to make sure I’m good, like 100% good before I tax it again. I’m confident that it’s good, but I want to make good and sure.”

Soler protection

Jorge Soler moved into the No. 2 hole in the batting order Tuesday for the first time since May 2018.

Yost made the change and flip-flopped Soler with Alex Gordon, who will bat fourth behind Hunter Dozier, in order to keep opposing pitchers from pitching around Soler.

Soler entered the week with 35 home runs, three shy of tying Mike Moustakas’ single-season club record of 38 set in 2017. Soler ranks second in the American League in homers behind Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout.

While Soler has reached base in 11 of his last 12 games, he was walked six times in five games at home against the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets.

While batting fourth, Soler had Cheslor Cuthbert behind him. Cuthbert has gone into a slump of late and hasn’t had a hit in his past 34 at-bats.

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.