Here’s some much needed good news for the Royals as they look to pull out of their May slide: lefty Danny Duffy is ready to start his minor-league rehab assignment in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Duffy, 24, is ticketed for 60 pitches Sunday afternoon for Class AA Northwest Arkansas at San Antonio after making six appearances in extended spring training at the Royals’ complex in Surprise, Ariz.
“I’m on Cloud Nine, man,” he said. “I’ve really been feeling well. I feel that after my starts, I’ve been bouncing back better now than I ever have -- at least since high school.“It’s been a really good process down here (in Arizona). So, hopefully, it stays that way.”
Rules permit pitchers to remain a maximum of 30 days on a minor-league assignment. (Non-pitchers are limited to 20 days.) Thereafter, the player must be activated or optioned to the minors (barring further injury).
Right-hander Felipe Paulino, also recovering from Tommy John surgery, is approximately three weeks behind Duffy in the rehab process.
Duffy was a third-round pick in 2007 and viewed as the organization’s most advanced pitching prospect prior to exiting a May 13, 2012 game in Chicago because what was later diagnosed as a torn elbow ligament.
At the time, Duffy was 2-2 with a 3.90 ERA in six starts and showing notable improvement after going 4-8 and 5.64 in 20 starts as a rookie in 2011. He was 27-14 with a 2.65 ERA over four-plus minor-league seasons.
Duffy underwent Tommy John surgery on June 13, which put him on a loose 12-month rehab timetable to return to active duty.
What is particularly encouraging, at this point, is he shows an unusually high degree of command and velocity. Most pitchers particularly struggle to regain their command in the early stages of their recovery.
“I didn’t walk my first guy until this last start,” Duffy said, “and I’ve had six appearances. It’s been important for me to get a feel for my pitches because I don’t want to overthrow. I know what that gets you.
“So, yes, the control, the touch, has been there. And I’m back in the mid-to-upper 90s, man. Yeah, I can do that. It’s been anywhere from 90 up to 97-98. It’s definitely back.”Dyson’s recovery
Outfielder Jarrod Dyson began light workouts -- no running, yet -- in his recovery from what the Royals characterize as a “mild high right ankle sprain.”
Dyson said he hopes to begin running by early next week and is targeting a June 5 return -- three weeks from when he suffered the injury while climbing the center-field wall at Angel Stadium in pursuit of a Mike Trout homer.
“It’s getting better. I’m looking forward to up and running on it next week,” he said. “As soon as it happened, I heard it and I thought, ‘It’s not good.’ I’ve dealt with ankle injuries in the past, so I know how to get over them real quick.”
But Dyson is still angry at himself for going after the home-run ball in the first place.
“I’m kind of mad about it, I am. It’s something you just have to deal with. You can’t hang your head about it. You just have to move forward and get stronger.”Getz comfortable in leadoff spot
Second baseman Chris Getz is the latest player Ned Yost is trying in the leadoff spot, and while it’s only been a few games, Getz says he’s comfortable there.
In his 13 plate appearances since the move, Getz has reached base six times. In Thursday night’s game, Getz went one for three with two walks, and Friday night, he was one for four with an RBI and a stolen base.
“I love being there. My goal each night is to get on base every time,” he said. “It’s that simple. However I do it. I’ve embraced it and am having fun with it.”
One thing that’s making him feel better at the plate is his adjusted stance, where he stands more upright rather than starting from a crouch.
“I decided to do that on my own because I just wasn’t doing well, and I had a lot of success with it (the stance) last year, and it was time for an adjustment. That’s part of the game. I’m just very comfortable where I’m at and with that swing.”Perez feeling little pain
After missing two games in Houston when he suffered a deep bruise to his hip on Monday, catcher Salvy Perez returned in a big way at the plate on Thursday night. He went three for four with an RBI single against the Angels in his first game back since the injury. It was Perez’s eighth multi-hit game this month. Friday night, Perez was zero for four.
Perez said that the bruise only really bothers him when he runs.
“(Running was) a little bit painful, just a little bit,” he said. “I’m coming in early every day to do my treatment in time to be ready for the game.
“Definitely (no pain) when I catch or when I throw. It’s normal.”
Lorenzo Cain extended his hitting streak to four games, going two for four with a double. Alex Gordon, who was one for four, has hit safely in 37 of 45 games this year. Miguel Tejada's home run was his first as a Royal. Tejada has at least one hit in his last six starts. The fans turned out for Friday night's game, with attendance at 32,148 and a walk-up total of just over 6,400.
It was 25 years ago Saturday -- May 25, 1988 -- that Frank White became the first player to play in 2,000 games as a Royal. He went hitless in four at-bats in a 4-2 loss to Minnesota at then-Royals Stadium.
White finished his career with 2,324 games over 18 seasons from 1973-90. That ranks second in franchise history to George Brett’s 2,707 games from 1973-93.