Duffy takes cautious approach with hammy

Issue has third baseman concerned as Opening Day looms

March 9th, 2019

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Matt Duffy was scratched from Saturday’s lineup after feeling discomfort in his left hamstring, which has limited the Rays third baseman to just one game this spring.

Over the past couple of days -- and as early as Friday -- Duffy was running the bases and testing the hamstring. He said he felt fine doing all the needed activities, but felt a lot more sore than anticipated on Friday afternoon.

“I just don’t quite feel like I’m there yet,” Duffy said. “It’s obviously frustrating, but it kind of just feels like we’re getting close and then we rip off the scab. That’s the best way I can describe it. It’s not a major setback, but again, I can’t go out there in a game knowing that I’m not quite ready and risk it.”

Duffy has dealt with hamstring issues in the past and missed some time in 2018 due to a similar injury. Last year’s hamstring injury only forced Duffy to miss 10 days, but this has lingered longer than he or the team had anticipated. 

With just over two weeks until Opening Day, Duffy admits that if the injury doesn’t get better within the next week, there’s a chance that he’ll start the season on the injured list. 

“I would love to be ready on Opening Day,” Duffy said. “I think it’s one of the coolest things ever -- and that’s part of why I want to push it, because that day is getting closer and closer. But I have to step back and look at the big picture and not let this really affect the whole season.”

While Duffy believes the cutoff date for him to be ready for Opening Day is getting closer, Rays manager Kevin Cash remains optimistic the club will be able to get Duffy enough playing time if all things progress with the hamstring. 

“I’m personally not overly concerned,” Cash said. “I know he is. I’m just frustrated for him because he’s worked so hard this offseason to put on the weight and hasn’t been able to go out there and get in a consistent rhythm.

“Knowing Matt and the way he carries himself and the stuff that he does preparation-wise, he’ll be fine. I agree with him that if you feel it, it’s probably not the time to push it.”

Cash said the team hasn’t begun talking about potential options if Duffy does start the season on the injured list, but he would anticipate if a roster spot became open he would lean more toward adding another pitcher, due to the versatility of players such as Daniel Robertson, Joey Wendle and Yandy Diaz. 

The team’s current plan, according to what Cash said on Friday, is to carry 12 pitchers into the season. But if Duffy has to miss time to begin the season, it’ll likely open a spot for a 13th pitcher. 

“I think that if any of those guys go down during the season, we think we’re going to be covered with a body that’s already on the roster,” Cash said. “For me, selfishly, it looks like we could call up a pitcher because I always want the pitcher.”

Over the offseason, Duffy trained at Exos in Arizona and came into camp about 23 pounds heavier than last season. Coming into camp, Duffy said he felt the best he has coming into a Spring Training -- which only makes the injury even more frustrating for him.

“It’s frustrating,” Duffy said. “Nobody is more frustrated than me. I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about it.”