Barry Zito faced live hitters yesterday for the first time since being placed on the disabled list with a sprained foot in mid-April, throwing 50 pitches against teammates Emmanuel Burriss and Eli Whiteside in a simulated game.
Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Whiteside hit a homer, which is never a good sign for any pitcher in any situation, but manager Bruce Bochy watched the session and said that Zito “threw well” and “should be encouraged” by how it went.
Zito is expected to move his recovery to extended spring training, followed by a minor-league rehab assignment, but Bochy told Kroichick that he’s still likely several weeks from potentially rejoining the Giants.
Ryan Vogelsong is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA since replacing Zito in the rotation, so the Giants may not be inclined to rush him back.
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.