KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Royals left-hander Danny Duffy is making changes.
Already, Duffy has switched his uniform from No. 23 to No. 41 for this season.
Duffy also has quit his Twitter account, for the second time in a year, though he vows this time it’s finally for good.
And Duffy vows he will come back more focused and much stronger physically once his recovery from Tommy John surgery is complete.
“Everything is going great,” Duffy said. “I’m throwing and I’m in good shape and I can’t wait to get back all the way. I want to get back (to the big-league club) before the All-Star Game.”
Duffy switched uniform numbers for a simple reason.
“I just wanted a fresh start,” he said.
That reasoning is primarily why Duffy also has given up on Twitter, which is a shame, because Duffy’s Tweets were honest and funny.
But Duffy quit last May after getting worn down by the hate often spewed by followers, and that same hate wore him down again last month.
“I actually retired my Twitter account about a month and a half ago,” he said. “I’m too prideful when it comes to guys on my team. Somebody says something bad about them, about my teammates, I want to stand up for them. Then it just gets ugly.
“There are some fake (Danny Duffy) accounts out there, too. It’s too bad because there are just a bunch of keyboard warriors out there who kind of ruin it for everyone. It sucks because there are some great fans out there I liked getting to know the great fans.
“But then there are those people in their parent’s basement who ruin it for everyone. It’s just not fun anymore. I’m done and I think it’s a good thing I am.”
Duffy said he wants all his focus now on his rehab, which has been a long and arduous undergoing since his surgery last June.
“It’s taught me patience,” he said. “Never been good at that.
“But it’s been going great. I threw from 105 feet (last week). My arm feels better than it has since I’ve been in the pros and since I graduated high school.
“I’ve been throwing for about a month and a half, but that’s been mostly at 60 feet. I gradually got up to 75 feet, gradually up to 90 feet, then up to 105. It’s been kind of a marathon.”
Duffy, still regarded as one of the organization’s top young talents at 24, hasn’t just been playing soft toss, either.
“I’m not straining when I throw,” he said, “but it’s not soft toss, either. I can let it loose a little.”
The plan now is to have Duffy continue to stretch out before doing some light tossing off the mound in the next two months. From there he will continue to build up strength until he can cut loose off the mound and throw batting practice, perhaps by March or April.
“I’ve been hearing a bunch of different possible return dates,” he said. “But I’m just going at the normal pace for me. I’m not stressing about return dates. It happens when it happens.
“Late May is probably when I could start pitching again (against opponents). Obviously I have to do an extended rehab assignment. It’s a complex thing and I don’t understand it all. But it also depends on the team needs. That’s going to determine when I would get back to (the big leagues).
“My goal has actually been mid-May to start a rehab assignment and then maybe even be here in Kansas City by late May or early June. But that’s me. I don’t know if they have that date. I’m always optimistic about it.
“I definitely want to get back here before the All-Star game.”
That timetable is not unreasonable.
“Not at all,” Duffy said. “Dr. (Lewis) Yocum said it’s about 10 to 14 months (after surgery). That’s on schedule.”
There has been one unnerving side effect from the surgery. A tendon was removed from just below Duffy’s right knee to graft onto Duffy’s left elbow ligament. But the area where the tendon was removed remains numb.
“I have no feeling in there, which is weird,” Duffy said. “I hope it comes back. It doesn’t really affect me – it just feels weird. Dr. Yocum said the nerves should grow back.”
Duffy has talked to several other pitchers who have had the surgery to gauge how his elbow would recover.
“Oh, yeah, I talked to a lot guys about it,” Duffy said. “I mean, they have an express lane set up at Dr. Yocum’s office – that’s how many people have this surgery now. Everyone who has had it said they actually come back a little stronger. That’s really what I want.
“There’s not a place in my body right now that isn’t healthy. I’m ready to go.”
Duffy is especially ready to join the new-look pitching staff.
“I’m stoked. We got everything we need now,” he said. “We got Jeremy Guthrie back. We got James Shields. We got Wade Davis. We got Ervin Santana.
“I mean, Ervin is a No. 1 guy. He’s that good. I’m really excited.
“I’m not worried at all about how I fit in. They’ll put me where they need me whether it’s in the bullpen or starting. As long as we’re winning. We’ll be fine. I’m just happy to be part of it.”