Matt Joyce again close to returning from DL after setback

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Matt Joyce has been out since mid-June with a strained oblique muscle and suffered a setback last week that canceled his plans to be off the disabled list by now, but the Rays outfielder said yesterday that he’s aiming to return within two weeks.

Joyce told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he’s “pretty optimistic” about that timetable being doable and is slated to begin a minor-league rehab assignment next week.

Joyce was playing in the minors when he tweaked his back on July 4, so the Rays may ask him to spend a little extra time there before a return just to be safe.

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.