Royals left-hander Danny Duffy is heading back to the minors after lasting 3 2/3 innings Wednesday in his first big-league appearance in nearly 15 months.
The club optioned Duffy to Class AAA Omaha, in a move that was expected, prior to Thursday’s opener to a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals replaced Duffy by selecting the contract of lefty reliever Francisley Bueno from Omaha. They cleared space on their 40-man roster by releasing injured Omaha catcher Adam Moore.
“If I’m out of here,” Duffy said, “I’m going to work as hard as I can to get back here.”
He could be in line for a quick return.
The Royals will need an extra starter next week for an Aug. 16 double-header at Detroit. Manager Ned Yost said Duffy is an “option” for that duty but cautioned no decision has been made.
“I’m happy my first game back in the big leagues is out of the way,” Duffy said. “Yesterday was easily the best day of my life. I had everyone here from home and I did my best. I left it all out there. My curveball wasn’t there, but it’s behind me. It’ll be back and hopefully I’ll be back up here soon, too.”
The move to option Duffy also clears the way for right-hander Wade Davis to regain his spot in the rotation.
Davis remains on family emergency leave following the death of his step-brother, but he is expected to return in time to make his next scheduled start — Monday in the series opener against Miami at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals must make a space-clearing move on their 25-man roster when he returns. Club officials are also hoping catcher Salvy Perez can return Sunday from the seven-day disabled list for concussions.
If all goes well, Perez could test his recovery by catching a bullpen workout prior to Friday’s game. Activating Perez, whenever that occurs, would also require a corresponding space-clearing roster move.
Bueno, 32, arrives after compiling a 2.93 ERA in 31 appearances at Omaha. He also spent most of last season at Omaha before joining the Royals in the closing weeks and recording a 1.56 ERA in 18 games.
Moore, 29, spent most of this season at Omaha, where he was batting .191 with eight homers and 23 RBIs before suffering a season-ending groin injury in mid-July.
Duffy, 24, exited a May 13, 2012, start in Chicago because of elbow pain and underwent Tommy John surgery a month later to replace the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.
“I never thought my career was over, but it’s not guaranteed you’re ever going to get back here,” Duffy said. “It’s a very rocky road, a tough road and a tedious road. There’s a lot of things you do that you don’t want to do, but if you want to come back, you’ve just got to keep your eyes on the prize.”
He made 14 rehab appearances this season in the minors prior to his start Wednesday in a 5-2 victory over Minnesota.
“It was one of those starts where you just wanted him to get out there and get it over with,” Yost said. “It’s like your first major-league start. I wanted him to go out there and get past it.”
By that measure, Duffy’s start was a success. He limited the Twins to two runs in 3 2/3 innings despite allowing six hits and two walks while throwing 93 pitches. On the plus side, he had seven strikeouts.
“The best is yet to come,” Duffy vowed. “I know I’ve been saying that for years, but it’s been 15 months since I was up here. You’ve got to build on everything.”More on Perez
Perez, the Royals’ all-star catcher, had a second headache-free day and resumed light workouts.
“He’s out running right now, so that’s a good sign,” Yost said during Thursday’s pregame press conference. “He spent 15 minutes on the bike (Wednesday), passed the tests and now we’re doing some more extensive exercising, so he’s progressing nicely.”
The timetable for Perez’s return remains seven days, which is the minimum he can stay on baseball’s special disabled list for concussions. It’s possible he’ll be back for the final game against the Red Sox.Playful Guthrie takes part in Social Media Night
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie had fun with the Royals’ second annual Social Media Night.
“I’ve gained at least 100, maybe 110 (followers),” Guthrie said, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “It’s tough to count them all. They’re just piling up by the hundreds.”
Asked about his social media repertoire, Guthrie offered, “A lot of shoes and a lot of music tweets and nothing else. I bring nothing else to the table at all. Some sleep pictures recently, but that’s about it — some travel in the offseason but mainly just shoes.”
Guthrie recently opened an Instagram account to avoid flooding his Twitter followers with pics of his kicks.
“I have an exclusive Instagram for shoes and travel only,” Guthrie said still laying it on thick. “I’ve got 200 followers already on Instagram. It’s blowing up. My wife says I don’t even have enough time for the family anymore with all this stuff going on. It’s tough to manage 225 followers on Instagram.”Paulino comeback continues at Class AAA
Making his first rehab start at Class AAA Omaha, Felipe Paulino went three innings Thursday, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits a walk and four strikeouts against the Sacramento River Cats at Werner Park. Paulino, who threw 62 pitches, including 46 strikes, is returning from elbow ligament replacement surgery. He pitched three innings last Saturday for Northwest Arkansas in his first rehab start of the new cycle.