Royals pitchers Duffy, Paulino inching closer to return
Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino are working steadily toward a possible July return to Kansas City
By JEFFREY FLANAGAN FS Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When
Danny Duffy visited with us at the Royals Fan Fest in January, he was hoping for a June 1 return to the big-league club.
As it turns out, that goal was a bit ambitious.
But Royals general manager Dayton Moore told FOXSportsKansasCity.com that both Duffy and right-hander Felipe Paulino, who each had Tommy John surgery last summer, are progressing right on schedule and could be available to the big-league club by July.
"They're both doing very well and haven't had any setbacks," Moore said. "All the reports are positive."
Duffy and Paulino could be huge additions to the rotation – which is strong at the top but somewhat shaky at the No. 4 and No. 5 spots – or to the bullpen.
Both pitchers are continuing to throw off the mound at extended spring training in Arizona. And both pitchers are up to three innings per outing.
"It's a very controlled environment down there," Moore said. "We can watch and monitor their pitch count, adjust what hitters they're facing and adjust the situations. They're both right where we want them to be.
"Their velocity is where it was before they had the surgeries. Now it's just a matter of both of them regaining their strength in their arms and their confidence and their command."
Extended spring training ends June 8, but Moore said it's possible both pitchers could be sent out on minor-league rehab assignments prior to that date.
Barring any setbacks, rehab assignments can last up to 30 days.
Where Duffy and Paulino would fit in with the big-league club is uncertain. Duffy still has minor league options, and conceivably could be sent to Omaha after his rehab.
Paulino, however, is out of options and seems a sure bet to be placed on the staff when ready.
"That will all sort itself out when the time comes," Moore said. "We're certainly not trying to rush either pitcher back. When they've done their minor league rehab, we'll evaluate the whole situation and determine our needs at the big-league level and go from there."
Both pitchers were going to be key fixtures in the rotation in 2012. Duffy was 2-2 with a 3.90 ERA before his elbow injury. Paulino was even better last season – 3-1, 1.67 ERA – before getting hurt.
"We're certainly looking forward to getting those players back," Moore said. "We just have to be cautious."