by Rowan Kavner
A 9-year-old Danny Duffy cried on May 14, 1998, when Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile were traded for Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson, Jim Eisenreich and Manuel Barrios.
Duffy, a California native who grew up in the Central Coast, was an ardent Piazza and Dodger fan. He would look for the former catcher’s return dates when his family made its three or four yearly trips to watch games at Dodger Stadium. Soon, the 32-year-old left-handed pitcher and deadline acquisition will be pitching for the team he grew up watching.
“That really kind of painted a picture of how I felt about the Dodgers growing up,” Duffy said. “Having it be full circle and being able to come play for them, I’m walking a little bit higher right now. It’s crazy. I’m very thankful for the opportunity.”
Duffy had never been traded before the Dodgers acquired him July 29 for a player to be named later. He spent 11 Major League seasons with the Royals, who drafted him in the third round in 2007, amassing a 68–68 record with a 3.95 ERA and 1.32 WHIP.
He was 4–3 with a 2.51 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 61 innings this year before a left forearm flexor strain sidelined him for the second time this season.
“I think a lot of things really fell into place for me,” Duffy said. “I’ve never been this confident my whole career. I had a really good year in 2016, and right now I’m more confident than I was then, and I felt like I could get anybody out then. I’m feeling great mentally.”
His Dodger debut will likely wait another month, though.
The lefty had a 0.60 ERA in his first five starts of the year. After three appearances in May, Duffy went to the IL for the first time this year. He returned to make six appearances in June and July before going back to the IL with the same injury on July 20. Duffy said his ligament is fully intact and feeling better every day, but he was still on the shelf when the Dodgers traded for him.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman acquired Duffy with September and October in mind.
“Ideally, he keeps feeling good and the trajectory is such that we can build him up to be a starter,” Friedman said. “If not, depending on what we learn over the next few weeks, we feel like he can impact us out of the pen as well. We’re not sure at this point. We really like the arm talent and feel like he can slot in in October and really help us in our pursuit to win a championship.”
Duffy, who has started 204 of his 234 career regular season games, said he’d accept any role asked when he returns. He hopes to be back by early September and is encouraged by how he’s felt recently.
“I feel like this last week I’ve turned a corner a little bit physically,” Duffy said. “I’ve been told (of a return) anywhere late August, early September, depending upon the role — which I’m unaware of so far. I’m just kind of going to do what I’m told in that regard and listen to the medical staff and everybody in the clubhouse.”
If Duffy is asked to serve in a bullpen role in October, it wouldn’t be the first time. Six years ago, in his last taste of the postseason, Duffy made six playoff relief appearances — including three in the World Series — in the Royals’ championship season.
He could make a similar impact to his childhood team.
“It’s awesome that a team like this has confidence that I can add to the table, (that) I could bring something that could potentially help,” Duffy said. “Whatever that looks like, I’m here for it.”
Betts activated among flurry of moves
The Dodgers activated outfielder Mookie Betts from the injured list on a Sunday that included a number of roster moves.
The club also selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Yefry Ramírez, optioned right-handed pitcher Mitch White and infielder/outfielder Zach McKinstry to Triple-A Oklahoma City and transferred right-handed pitcher Jimmie Sherfy (right elbow inflammation) to the 60-day injured list.
Betts was 12-for-17 with seven extra-base hits in his last five games before left hip irritation tabled him for 11 games. In his return Sunday, he picked up where he left off going 2-for-5 with a home run and a walk while manning second base.
“Swinging the bat isn’t a problem,” Roberts said. “I think even running the bases is fine. The thing for us was the ground that he’d have to cover in the outfield on turf. Going forward, obviously he’s our right fielder. But I think for this isolated day, there’s really not a whole lot of concern if he’s on the dirt and taking at-bats.”
Ramírez, who debuted in 2018 with Baltimore, was 3–3 with a 5.49 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings over 15 games (12 starts) with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He closed out Sunday’s game with two scoreless innings.
Notebook: Danny Duffy thankful for chance to help his childhood team was originally published in Dodger Insider on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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