His first outing came in 98-degree weather and he was pretty hot himself, tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings on two hits with three strikeouts. Then came a 65-degree evening with the wind blowing off the river and he ran a bit cold, 1 2/3 innings with four runs on four hits and two walks.
"The big thing is my body feels good," Duckworth said. "Now I can get consistent work and get back in the swing."
Duckworth has been out since June 14 with a left rib-cage strain, a stretch of 51 Royals games. The oblique injury was a dilly.
"When I was just sneezing, it felt like knives going through me," he said. "It's bad stuff."
Earlier this season, Duckworth pitched in 18 games (two starts) and posted a 2.94 ERA with a 2-3 record and one save. He began the season in the rotation but his emergence as a solid middle reliever was an early factor in the continuing success of the Royals' bullpen.
He'll next pitch for Triple-A Omaha on Wednesday and make perhaps another two or three starts after that, taking him close to the Sept. 1 roster expansion time.
"We're stretching him out. He gives us another option for a starter," manager Buddy Bell said. "As you know, we don't have a lot of options."
In the event of a need in the bullpen, Duckworth could return sooner.
Second at first: Rookie Billy Butler made his second start at first base on Monday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. His other start was on July 18, also with Odalis Perez as the starting pitcher.
What's this? Perez has a personal first baseman?
"I thought I did a pretty good job for him," Butler said, going along with the joke.
Seriously, folks, Bell believes that Butler has worked very hard at first base in pregame drills while filling Mike Sweeney's DH role regularly.
"He has an idea of where he is on the field and his hands work really good," Bell said.
Bunts: General manager Dayton Moore on finding a manager to succeed Bell, who is stepping down: "This is not the greatest time in the world to be interviewing candidates." ... Jorge De La Rosa, on the DL with a sore elbow, was scheduled to throw from the mound again on Monday after an earlier so-so session. "It was not as intense as we'd like to have seen," Bell said. ... The September callups haven't been decided but Bell said: "I don't want too many guys up here. I don't want them here to sit."
In Buck's seat: Ralph Weinke was in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat on Monday night. Weinke led the campaign to rebuild the Missouri City Community Center and provide the area with essentials after the floods of 1993. A Shriner since 1950, he has been active in several community and charity endeavors.
Royals rundown: Neal Musser finally was tagged with an earned run, his first this season for Triple-A Omaha, in a 7-5 win at Memphis. His ERA jumped to 0.19 for 46 2/3 innings. Omaha starter Tyler Lumsden walked seven and gave up five hits and three runs in four innings in Sunday's game. ... Left fielder Jorge Padilla's two-run double in the 11th inning lifted Double-A Wichita over Frisco, 5-3. John Mayberry Jr. homered for Frisco, his 29th this season. ... Tyler Chambliss pitched three shutout innings on one hit as Class A Wilmington downed Frederick, 2-1. ... Chris Denton and Greg Holland combined for four innings of hitless relief in Rookie Idaho Falls' 2-1 win at Billings. ... Third baseman Antonio Jimenez (.213) had an RBI on each of his four hits, including his fourth homer, as Rookie Burlington, N.C., downed Kingsport, 10-3. ... Eric Van Slyke got his seventh save to go with a 0.47 ERA in the Rookie Royals' 5-4 win over the Arizona A's.
The family at home: On Saturday, Sept. 8, Royals fans will have a chance to have a family photo taken at Kauffman Stadium before the stadium renovation project begins in the offseason.
"Family Photo at Home Plate" will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. prior to the Royals-Yankees game at 6:10 p.m. The package will include an 11-by-14 inch photo matted in a 17-by-22 frame with the Royals Crown scoreboard, featuring a personalized name or message, as the backdrop. The price is $250 with proceeds benefiting the local chapter of The Dream Factory.
A limited number of photo time slots are available and reservations are required via the Royals Web site, royals.com. Finished photos will be available within four to six weeks.
Coming up: The Royals launch a nine-game road trip to Texas, Oakland and Chicago at 7:35 p.m. CT Tuesday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. In a matchup of right-handers, the Royals' will send Kyle Davies (5-8, 5.64) against the Rangers' Kevin Millwood (7-9, 5.90).
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less