Presidential fete behind them, Royals return to work against Rangers

Danny Duffy will try to help the Royals turn things around.

Denny Medley/Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals spent their off-day on Thursday at the White House as President Barack Obama honored the 2015 World Series champions.

The celebration is over and it is back to work Friday night as the Royals entertain the American League West-leading Texas Rangers for a three-game series.

But 2016 is not going well for the Royals, who are at .500 after 94 games and nine games behind the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians, who popped five home runs in winning 11-4 on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals have lost 11 of 16 games in July and have not won back-to-back games since June 29-30.

If they are to make it back to postseason, the Royals will need to reverse things quickly, which they did in 2014 when they ended a 29-year playoff drought by qualifying as a wild card and advancing to the World Series.

"They know it’s in them," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "They don’t need to go to the White House to be reaffirmed of that. They know what they have inside. They know what they have ahead of them. They know they’ve been through it before. They know they have to go through it again."

The Rangers, who won their division last year, are going through their own struggles. They were swept by the Los Angeles Angels and have lost 14 of 18. They also placed sluggers Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo on the disabled list Wednesday.

Fielder could miss the remainder of the season with herniated discs in his neck. He returned to Texas to be checked out Friday by Dr. Drew Dossett. Fielder had surgery on May 27, 2014, for herniated discs and missed the rest of the season. He was selected the 2015 AL Comeback Player of the Year after hitting .305 with 23 home runs and 98 RBIs.

Choo has lower back inflammation and received an injection Wednesday. This is his third stint this season on the disabled list. The previous stints were for a right calf strain and a left lateral strain.

Fielder, who started 79 games as the designated hitter and nine at first base, was hitting .212 with eight home runs and 44 RBIs. Choo had a .260 average with seven home runs and 17 RBIs but had appeared in only 33 games.

With Fielder out, Mitch Moreland will be getting more playing time.

"It’s just one of those bad situations," Moreland told Texas "For him and for us, it’s a big loss, not only on the field but off. The presence he brings, the fun he brings. He always has a big smile on his face. It’s something we’ll miss. Somebody else has to step up. But I’m not putting any added pressure into the situation."

Outfielder Delino DeShields and infielder Hanser Alberto were recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to take their roster spots.

The Rangers and Royals, who share the same spring training complex in Surprise, Ariz., will square off seven times in the next 10 games.

Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish, who missed last season after Tommy John surgery and sat out five weeks this season with shoulder discomfort, will make his fifth start in the series opener and his second since coming off the disabled list.

Darvish lost his Saturday start 3-1 to the Chicago Cubs, giving up two runs, two hits and four walks with nine strikeouts while throwing 90 pitches. He is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two career starts against Kansas City.

Left-hander Danny Duffy will start for the Royals. Duffy, who began the season in the bullpen, is 5-1 with a 3.27 ERA and leads the club with 101 strikeouts. Since June 1, his 67 strikeouts top the AL.

Duffy is 0-1 with a 7.24 ERA in his three previous appearances against the Rangers.