KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Royals left-hander has a quick message for any Royals fan ready to abandon ship: Don’t do it.
“You know, I’m a fan, too,” Duffy told me. “I’m a fan of the Lakers, and they’re struggling, and it’s tough to be a fan of a team that’s struggling. But I hope the fans hang with us a little longer because we will prove to you that it will pan out.
“This is a good team.”
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Duffy understands that it’s a fan’s prerogative to get down on the team and to get disappointed. But he warns that it’s simply too early to bail on this group.
“I just feel like we’ve been playing better than the results,” he said. “It’s not showing up in the standings yet. But if you know the game, you know we’re very close. If you know the game, you know we’re good.
“But if you’re looking at the game just for wins and losses right now, you’re not seeing what we have. It will pan out. There’s no way we can go through many losing streaks like this. We won’t. This team is too good and I think we’ll show that to the fans.”
Duffy admits that the slow start has stung the players, too.
“We don’t like losing,” he said. “It’s not fun. This team takes it to heart. I know fans have heard it before. They’ve gone through 25 years of losing. But this team isn’t part of that 25 years of losing. This team is different.
“I was born three years after the last time we were in the playoffs. And I know there have been a lot of losses since then. No disrespect to the players that played here before. But we’re not them.”
If Duffy, 23, seems defiant through this tough start, it’s because he is. He seemed visibly upset after his last start, a 3-2 loss to Detroit on Monday.
Duffy at one point even suggested to reporters that the Royals were better than Detroit, though he admits he clearly misspoke.
“It’s not what I meant,” he said. “I meant to say we were better than that as in better than the way we played. I meant no disrespect to the Tigers. They’re a very good team obviously.
“Someone will try to blow that comment up but it’s not what I meant. But I will say that there is no team I’d rather be on than this team. I love this team. This team is talented and it will scratch and claw its way back. Just watch.”
Duffy, who has pitched superbly in his two starts this season, clearly has let his personality emerge this season, on and off the mound. A sign of more confidence?
“I wouldn’t say more confidence,” he said. “I’m more comfortable. I’ve always had confidence in my stuff. But I’m more comfortable and more convicted in using my stuff.”
Duffy has come a long way since “retiring” early in 2010 because of personal reasons. Any shell that he had been existing in since then, he has shed by now.
“That part of my life is long gone,” Duffy said. “A lot of people would come back after being gone and kind of nibble there way back. Maybe I did that a little. I certainly didn’t take the beaten path to get here.”
On the mound, Duffy is far more demonstrative than he has been in the past. He yells and shouts and pumps his fist when a teammate rescues him with a great play.
“That’s just who I am,” he said. “Some people put on a show but really, it’s just who I am. I get pumped up when my teammates do something great behind me. I can’t help it. Lorenzo Cain, Frenchy (Jeff Francoeur), Alcides (Escobar) – they’ve shown they’d run through a wall for me. I would run through a wall for them and I just want to show them I appreciate their efforts.
“I don’t why I’m doing all that, the fist pumps. I get excited. I’m not exactly doing it as much as Tiger Woods did. But it’s part of who I am. I can’t hold it back.”
Duffy said there’s no question he has something to prove this season.
“I just feel like I owe it to the Kansas City fans and to the Royals to give it my best,” he said. “They stuck with me in the past and I will stick with them. Now, I hope they stick with our team. It will be worth it.”