'Unfinished business' lured Duffy back to LA

March 20th, 2022

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Danny Duffy sat inside Dr. Neal ElAttrache’s office last October, preparing for the worst. After experiencing pain in his left elbow for most of last season, Duffy was expecting to hear that he needed Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career.

“If it was Tommy John, like full disclosure, I was thinking about just taking it to the house,” Duffy said, alluding that retirement was very much on the table.

While he prepared to potentially call it a career, Duffy’s playing days got new life. Dr. ElAttrache came back with the results of the MRI exam. He notified the left-hander that he didn’t need Tommy John surgery. Duffy did, however, need to undergo surgery to repair a left flexor tendon. It was still a long journey to full health, but Duffy was up to the challenge.

“I was super relieved,” Duffy said. “I realized that a decision had to be made, and that decision came in about 30 minutes of deliberating. I mean, I've got unfinished business here and whatever my contributions look like, I’m here for it.”

The “unfinished business” is why Duffy decided to come back to the Dodgers on a one-year deal with a club option in 2023. Duffy, who is from Southern California, talked about the importance of playing for his hometown team. He was acquired from the Royals last July but was never able to suit up for the Dodgers.

“I think I have a lot left in the tank, and I didn’t get to help all last year and that was devastating,” Duffy said. “This group of guys have been a lot of fun to be around and I’m excited to be an active player and actually get to contribute. It was a no-brainer.”

Duffy said he’ll begin playing catch in five or six weeks. He was told that he would be able to return to the mound in May, but the Dodgers will take it slow during his rehab. The expectation is that Duffy could be able to impact the big league roster in late June or early July.

“This is the first time in a long time that I haven’t really felt pain,” Duffy said. “The fact that [president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman] and [general manager Brandon Gomes] were willing to bring me back here, it meant a lot to me. They saw something in me. And I’ll do my best to contribute as much as I can.”

Before injuries derailed his 2021 season, Duffy was having a strong season with the Royals. He went 4-3 with a 2.51 ERA in 13 games (12 starts). He also struck out 65 over 61 innings of work. Duffy ranked in the 72nd percentile in Whiff rate, which represents his ability to miss bats.

Despite Duffy's track record as a starter, the Dodgers will count on him to be a multi-inning reliever. If the left-hander is able to get fully healthy, he has the ability to be a dangerous weapon for the Dodgers out of the bullpen.

“I feel like I got some bonus time on my career,” Duffy said. “This place is awesome. I've really enjoyed myself, looking forward to more enjoyable moments."