5/18/2014 4:08 P.M. ET
Infante progressing, but return date in question
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- Second baseman Omar Infante is making progress with his back ailment, but there's still no indication of whether he can come off the Royals' disabled list when he is eligible on Thursday's off-day.
"He was feeling much better yesterday," manager Ned Yost said. "He took 30 swings off a tee, 30 swings soft toss, and they rolled him some balls and he bent over and felt pretty good."
Pedro Ciriaco got his first start this season on Sunday, taking over for Johnny Giavotella at second base.
"I'm trying to keep everybody involved," Yost said. "We're defensing late to keep guys in the game. I'm trying to stay away from guys sitting on the bench for weeks at a time."
He's been keeping outfielder Jarrod Dyson and third baseman Danny Valencia in the lineup as well, when possible.
Valencia has been facing left-handed pitchers in place of Mike Moustakas, and Dyson has been a late-inning center fielder. The usual move is for Lorenzo Cain to shift from center to right with Nori Aoki leaving the game.
"Dyson's more comfortable in center. Lo can play anywhere," Yost said. "Lorenzo's played a lot of right and center, and Dyson's played center his whole career, so you maximize your defense that way."
Duffy slated to take next turn on Friday
KANSAS CITY -- Just in case there was any doubt, yes, Danny Duffy will be starting again when his turn comes around next Friday against the Angels in Anaheim
Not that he wouldn't have gotten another start after his flirtation with a perfect game in Saturday night's 1-0 victory over the Orioles, but Thursday's open date cast some doubt on just when that would be.
Manager Ned Yost likes to keep James Shields on a regular five-day routine -- with four days of rest between starts. Because Shields started Sunday's game, the open date meant the ace could start again on Friday against the Angels, bumping Duffy.
"I made the decision last week that I wasn't going to do that," Yost said. "I did originally plan to do that, but I think we're at the point where everybody could use an extra day."
So Shields will get five days of rest and start Saturday against the Angels, and the rest of the starters will also move up a day.
"It's a good time to give everybody an extra day," Yost said. "If Duff did throw good or didn't throw good, we were going to do that anyway."
Yost was pretty sure that Duffy would get a perfect game or at least a no-hitter after left fielder Alex Gordon made a spectacular diving catch on Nick Markakis' bid for a double to start the seventh inning.
"Nine times out of 10, when you see a no-hitter, there's always a spectacular play made, and when Gordy made that play, I was like, 'Oh man, we might see something special here tonight,'" Yost said.
One out later, however, Adam Jones' single ended the bid. Duffy, in his seven-plus innings, had no walks and two strikeouts. And what about that seemingly low number of K's?
"Well, that's what allowed him to command his pitch count. If you're striking a bunch of guys out, your pitch count is going to jump dramatically," Yost said.
Duffy finished with 97 pitches, 65 of them strikes.
"Strikeouts just come. You don't try to strike people out," said catcher Brett Hayes. "You just execute pitches, and that's what Duffy did. These guys are big league hitters; they're hard to strike out, [and] you're not trying to strike them out."
Control is sometimes an issue with Duffy, but he avoided throwing ball four all night.
"[Manny] Machado swung 3-0, and two [other counts], I think, that went 3-1 or 3-2 before [O's hitters] made their outs, but [Duffy] got them to put the ball in play," Yost said.
Duffy pitched into the eighth inning for the first time, and his two-hit, shutout pitching lowered his ERA to 1.06 for his three starts this year. In those three games, the offense has scored just three runs for him, and he has a 1-2 record starting in the injured Bruce Chen's spot.
Chen threw in the bullpen on Saturday and did fine, but he is not yet ready for a Minor League injury rehabilitation assignment.
"He had a little bit of stiffness and tightness but it went away immediately," Yost said.
Hayes' strong defense giving Yost options
KANSAS CITY -- Salvador Perez was back in the Royals' lineup on Sunday, catching James Shields, but backup Brett Hayes was impressive as he guided Danny Duffy to victory on Saturday night.
"He did a phenomenal job with Duffy -- calling the game, blocking pitches. His receiving is really good," manager Ned Yost said. "And I'm just waiting for him to get his first hit. I had a feeling he was going to get a homer for some reason all day long. I said, 'Hayes is going deep tonight.'"
Hayes is 0-for-16 in his 10 games so far, but it's defense that makes him valuable.
"The thing that we've got going for us this year is when we give Salvy a day off, I'm comfortable with the defense we have back there," Yost said. "Last year, we'd get the lead in the seventh or eighth inning, I had to put Salvy in games [for defense]. I don't have to do it this year."
KC supporting youth baseball with equipment drive
KANSAS CITY -- Fans will have a chance to support youth baseball and softball by contributing to the annual Royals Baseball Equipment Drive at Tuesday night's game against the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.
Pitchers Kelvin Herrera and Yordano Ventura are the player ambassadors for the project, teaming with the Baseball Tomorrow Fund for the collection of new and used equipment. This year's drive will benefit the Cristo Rey Kansas City baseball program.
Volunteers will be near the Diamond Club from 6 to 7:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday to collect equipment or cash donations.
Fans will receive an autographed baseball for a $40 donation or an autographed photo card for a $10 donation.
Herrera and Ventura will present a check for $5,000, a Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant, to Cristo Rey KC for the purchase of new equipment during a pregame ceremony on Monday.
This is the 10th season that BTF has joined with Major League clubs on equipment drives. Last year, Royals fans contributed more than 600 pieces of equipment and $2,680 in cash.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.