KANSAS CITY -- Left-hander Danny Duffy, after an absence of more than a year, is back in the Royals' rotation -- at least for a day.
Duffy will start in place of right-hander Wade Davis against Minnesota on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium. Davis is away for the funeral of his stepbrother at Sebring, Fla.
The last time Duffy started for the Royals was on May 13, 2012, when he left a game at Chicago in the first inning with a sore left elbow. One month later, he underwent Tommy John surgery. This year he's been rehabbing with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha.
"Even if it's for one day, I'm really stoked," Duffy said on Tuesday in the Royals' clubhouse. "I have no idea what the plan is, but I'm going to go out there and pitch tomorrow, get the ball and do what I do best."
For the two Minor League teams, Duffy pitched a total of 14 games with a 3-2 record and a 4.14 ERA. In 63 innings, he has 77 strikeouts while giving up 59 hits and 27 walks. His last start was on Friday at Tacoma, where he went five innings and gave up one run on five hits in a victory.
"I feel pretty good, stronger than I've ever felt," said the 24-year-old Duffy. "It takes a little bit more to maintain between starts, but I don't feel soreness. And this is the first time I can say that since I was 17."
Duffy will be pitching on a normal four days' rest. His longest outing for Omaha was six innings so he'll be watched carefully by manager Ned Yost and pitching coach Dave Eiland.
"The most important thing for him was getting back on that mound and healthy. He's done that," Yost said. "He's worked extremely hard through his rehab process and he's strong and back at it again."
"He's not all the way back. When he comes to Spring Training next year he's going to be 100 percent ready to go. He's 100 percent ready to go now, but you still have to get through that process of working your way back and that's what he's starting again here tomorrow, at least at the Major League level."
Duffy was one of the Royals' top pitching prospects when he was brought up in mid-May 2011. He made 20 starts for Kansas City with a 4-8 record and 5.64 ERA. Last year, he was 2-2 with a 3.90 ERA and was making his sixth start when he was pulled from the game against the White Sox.
"It took getting back here and the road I had to take to get back here to realize how great we all have it," Duffy said. "I don't mean to sound super-sentimental, but it's true. You take a lot for granted in life and I'm just excited to do my best to make a positive impact."
And he's confident about doing that. Duffy was asked about the state of his pitching stuff.
"Better than it's ever been," Duffy replied. "My curveball -- I'm adding and subtracting to it -- I don't want to give away too much, but it's been really good. My fastball is really jumping and I don't feel pain. That's the biggest thing right now. I haven't felt pain for so long and it's the first time I can say that since high school. So it's been great."
Duffy was moved into a locker space next to Ervin Santana. He's one of the newcomers who have helped the hot Royals make their second-half impact and Duffy says he noticed a difference in the team during Spring Training.
"From Day One, you could tell it was a different feel in the clubhouse. You still have ups and downs always in baseball, but you could just tell that this time had a different kind of mentality to it," Duffy said. "I'm right next to Erv and I'm pretty stoked about that. I get to chop it up with him. We have a whole different complexion to this team and I'm just excited to get in wherever I can."
The Royals will make a roster move before Wednesday night's game to clear a spot for Duffy.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less