Marlon Byrd hoping to return from facial fractures on July 4

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Out since a May 21 beaning left him with facial fractures, Marlon Byrd said yesterday that he could be cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment as soon as next week.

Byrd, who did some running yesterday, told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that he hopes to join the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in Des Moines next Monday and is aiming to come off the disabled list on July 4.

He was initially given a 4-6 week recovery timetable, so Byrd seems to be right on schedule. In his absence the Cubs have used three different center fielders in 26 games, with Reed Johnson and Tony Campana splitting time there recently.

Danny Duffy exits spring training game with left shoulder tightness

Danny Duffy
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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.