Notes: Duffy ready for '20; Dozier, Heath OK

July 9th, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- Opening Day is just two weeks from Friday, and with right-hander still in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, Royals manager Mike Matheny might just have veteran to make the July 24 start in Cleveland.

Duffy isn’t likely to have any nerves: He has been Kansas City's Opening Day starter twice before, in 2017 and '18. But he isn’t going to get ahead of himself preparing to start the opener, either.

“I’ve always taken a lot of pride in what I do,” he said. “I’ve done it before and I can do it again. But I will take it one game at a time.”

Duffy shouldn’t have a problem being stretched out in time. He threw four innings Wednesday night in an intrasquad game.

“I probably plateaued at about four innings [during the pause] and I did that about eight times,” he said. “Four innings is right where I’ve been. [Wednesday], I didn’t feel like I fatigued at all.”

No matter who starts Opening Day, Duffy just wants the Royals -- who’ve lost more than 100 games in each of the past two seasons -- to turn things around.

“We’ve had a couple of tough years in a row,” he said. “I want to get back to our winning ways. If that takes being uncomfortable. ... I think we can power through it.”

Quote of the day
Duffy shared with reporters that during the offseason, Royals pitchers kept in constant contact with the coaching staff. Constant, as in almost daily.

“I feel like if I hear the word ‘Zoom’ one more time, I might just ... oh, wait, this [interview] is Zoom!” Duffy said, laughing. “No, this is great, guys! This is fun.”

Matheny: The ump with a quick trigger
One of the lighter moments during Wednesday’s intrasquad game came when manager Mike Matheny, acting as the home-plate umpire, rang up prospect Khalil Lee on a called third strike. Lee was not pleased.

“He didn’t like it,” Matheny said, smiling. “And he didn’t like my response to him not liking it, either. I told him, ‘You’ll never see an umpire throw a guy as fast as me; you better watch it.’ He turned around and said, ‘Yes, sir,’ and kept walking. He’s a quick study.”

When it comes to umpiring, Matheny is old school: Veterans get the benefit of the doubt.

“I remember coming up with Milwaukee,” Matheny said, “and there weren’t many TV games, maybe 15 or 20 percent in Milwaukee. So, if it wasn’t a TV game and you have a veteran at the plate, you really had to thread the needle at the plate to get a strike.”

Royals to open with Rangers in 2021
MLB released the 2021 schedule on Thursday, and Kansas City will host Texas at Kauffman Stadium on Opening Day, April 1. It will be the first time the Royals will open a season against the Rangers.

Other highlights:

• Kansas City will continue the I-70 series against St. Louis with three games at Busch Stadium on Aug. 6-8, and three at Kauffman Stadium on Aug. 13-15.

• Interleague Play in 2021 includes hosting Mike Moustakas and the Reds from July 5-7.

• Kansas City’s holiday schedule will have the Royals hosting the Rangers on Easter Sunday (April 4), the White Sox on Mother’s Day (May 9), the Pirates on Memorial Day (May 31), the Red Sox on Father’s Day (June 20) and the Twins on Independence Day (July 4). The Royals will travel to face the Orioles on Labor Day (Sept. 6).

Dozier, Heath OK
The Royals got a scare on Wednesday when right fielder took a pitch from off of his right hand. Dozier eventually left the intrasquad game with what was termed a bruise. Center fielder also left the game with cramps.

Both were fine Thursday, Matheny said. And Matheny canceled Thursday night’s intrasquad game anyway, so both got a half-day off. Dozier took some live batting practice, though.

“Hunter was just on the phone,” Matheny said. “He was ready to play today, so that’s good news. We’ll just get them in here and let the trainers and doctors go to work on them.”