4/17/2014 8:31 P.M. ET
Duffy happy to contribute to victory out of 'pen
By Gene Duffey / Special to MLB.com
HOUSTON -- No one was happier about being a part of Kansas City's extra-inning win over Houston Wednesday night than reliever Danny Duffy, the winning pitcher.
Duffy took the long and winding road back from Tommy John surgery in May 2012, first as a starter at the end of last season and now working out of the Royals' bullpen.
"It was nice to get back out there that late in the game," he said. "I was really happy to contribute to what was a great performance by everybody."
Duffy entered Wednesday's game to begin the bottom of the ninth with the score tied. He gave up a single, then retired the next three hitters, two with strikeouts.
Jose Altuve led off the Houston 10th with a single, but Duffy struck out the next hitter and picked Altuve off first. A walk and another single put runners on first and third, but Duffy struck out L.J. Hoes to end the inning, giving him four strikeouts in two innings.
"That's why we brought him up," manager Ned Yost. "He's a kid who possesses a 97 mile per hour fastball. Let him experience the Major League game from the bullpen side. We think his benefit to our organization (long term) is going to be as a starter. Right now he's a reliever. He steps on the mound, doesn't have any fear and he attacks."
The Royals called up Duffy from Triple-A Omaha last Saturday and he pitched that night, retiring all seven batters he faced.
"They just said they needed an extra arm in the 'pen," said Duffy, who had never been a relief pitcher in his pro career. "I happen to have good stuff [Wednesday] night and was really lucky [Yost] gave me the opportunity. It gave me a whole lot of confidence. After what happened, I realize if I execute my pitches, it's going to get done because of how hard I throw. If I can keep my slider and get my changeup back, it's going to be a lot of fun."
Duffy's rehab from Tommy John took 16 months. It can be a mental grind as well as physical.
"You can't wonder [if you'll ever get back]," he said. "It's a mental battle. Surgery is down to a science. The rehab and how you approach it is debatable. If you try to be optimistic throughout, which is nearly impossible, and try not to think about what will happen and won't happen, the rehab goes faster.
"It was long and tedious. We had the right guys in the training room to keep me on track. I don't have any soreness after starts anymore. The only thing I really feel is fatigue. That comes from a year of not pitching."
After a rough Spring Training, Duffy began the season in Omaha. He made one start, pitching six innings and throwing 94 pitches, before getting the call from the Royals.
"It would have been really hard for me to win a spot [in the rotation]," he said. "I didn't have a good spring. I worked on holding myself accountable for the pitches I threw, and not making excuses. I'm never good at spring. Not a lot of people are. But I was tremendously bad.
"I feel better now than I've ever felt. I was so happy to get back. When you have it, and it's taken away from you, you realize how lucky you are to have it. You have to sit and watch for 16, 18 months, you realize what you've got. From now on, it's keeping it where it's at."
Cain placed on 15-day DL with left groin strain
HOUSTON -- Kansas City placed center fielder Lorenzo Cain on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a left groin strain after Cain was injured trying to beat out a grounder in Wednesday night's win over the Houston Astros.
"I took a hit last night," Cain said. "When I was trying to stretch out for the base, I kind of felt it. I hate to go through another DL, but I'll take two weeks to get healthy, work hard and get back on the field."
Cain stayed in the game in the outfield for another half-inning Wednesday before realizing he was injured.
"I tried not to show it [running back to the dugout]," he said. "I definitely felt it. I was hoping it wasn't anything. When I went back to the outfield and tried to run, I knew something was wrong. I let the trainers know."
Jarrod Dyson replaced Cain, singling and scoring a run in the 11th inning of the 6-4 Kansas City victory. Dyson started Thursday night's game vs. the Astros in center field.
The Royals called up left-hander Justin Marks from Triple-A Omaha in time for Thursday night's game at Houston to replace Cain on the active roster.
In 2012, Cain was limited to 61 games by three different leg injuries which included a left groin strain as well as a torn left hip flexor and a right hamstring strain. Last year he spent 15 days on the disabled list with a pulled oblique.
"It's frustrating," he said. "I've been working hard to keep my leg healthy. That's my main focus this year, stay healthy, stay on the field. I have to stay positive. Keep rooting on my teammates. Hope they keep winning and when I get back, we'll continue to win.
"You wait a few days, let it heal, then start the process of stretching it. I'm definitely used to it, that DL process. Once I get back on the field, I'll be ready to go."
Manager Ned Yost said that when the Royals return to Kansas City, opening a weekend series against Minnesota, the team doctors will be able to examine Cain and give him an MRI.
"[Trainer Nick Kenney] thinks it can be 5-7 days, best case scenario," Yost said. "He isn't any better [today] than he was yesterday. Still sore in his leg. We'll give him time to get this out of the way. Hopefully it won't be more than 15 days, but we'll see."
Marks is 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA in three games for Omaha, including one start.
Cain injured himself trying to beat out a ground ball to shortstop in the ninth inning with the game tied. First-base umpire CB Bucknor called Cain safe, but Houston manager Bo Porter challenged the call and replays proved Cain was out.
"I thought I was safe," Cain said. "But they overturned it. It happens. And I get hurt on top of it. I'm sure I'll get some overturned and win a few. It's a little frustrating. That's why we've got [replay]. If they got it right, they got it right. We still won. That's all that counts. Another win for the good guys."
Yost expressed confidence that Dyson can do the job in center field.
"I'm real confident," Yost said. "He's done a really good job of identifying the type of player he is. He had more walks than strikeouts in Spring Training. We know when he gets on, it takes almost a miracle to throw him out."
In a pinch, Dyson impresses against Astros
HOUSTON -- Kansas City's Jarrod Dyson demonstrated the perfect example of manufacturing a run in Wednesday night's 6-4 win over Houston in 11 innings.
Dyson replaced the injured Lorenzo Cain in center field in the 10th inning and batted in the 11th after teammate Mike Moustakas led off the inning with a home run.
Dyson singled to center field, stole second base, despite the Astros pitching out, moved to third on a sacrifice and scored on Omar Infante's infield grounder.
"I don't think there are three players who could have scored on that play last night," manager Ned Yost said of Dyson scoring from third on Omar Infante's ground ball to shortstop. "He just outran the ball. He's got great speed, great baserunning instincts. He gets great reads off pitches and has great timing."
"I was trying to make up for my booted error [in the 10th inning]," Dyson said. "I ended up doing a great job behind my mistake."
Dyson faced Astros reliever Jerome Williams in the 11th inning.
"I thought they might be thinking about the bomb, so I tried to sneak a bunt in," he said. "That didn't work. So I had to swing it. I got a knock and a stolen base. I didn't realize they had pitched out until I got to third."
It was Cain's first hit of the season.
Dyson didn't realize that Cain had injured his groin trying to beat out a ground ball in the ninth inning.
"I came up here [to the clubhouse] to get loose," he said. "I was ready to pinch-run for whoever got on. I saw the play. I didn't know he was hurt. He went back out there for defense."
With Cain placed on the disabled list Thursday, Dyson will take over in center field.
"I'm just trying to fill that spot in until he gets back," Dyson said of Cain. "I just hope he gets back soon. I know its frustrating."
Dyson, 29, has been fighting to become a regular in the Royals' lineup since he arrived in Kansas City as a September callup in 2010. This is his opportunity.
Minute Maid Park is one of the most spacious center fields in the Major Leagues, plus players must deal with Tal's Hill.
"It ain't no problem," Dyson said. "The bigger the field, the more you get to use your speed.
"We're both speed guys, like to cover ground," Dyson said of himself and Cain. "It's in our favor. If I have to run up the hill and look stupid doing it, I'm going to give it a shot. We take balls everywhere in BP [batting practice]. We shag hard."
Dyson played in six of Kansas City's first 13 games, but has only five at-bats.
"I don't like it," he said of being a reserve. "Who likes to back up. I have to do what's best for the team right now and wait for my opportunity. I think I'm an everyday guy. I have to work hard and not worry about it. You can get mad, but I go out and cheer my teammates on. You've got to be ready. My goal is not to sit there and pout. I don't get down on myself. I've learned how to deal with it."
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.