29-year-old Jim Henderson, called up by the Brewers earlier in the day, made his major league debut Thursday night, retiring all three Nationals he faced in his inning of work.
Henderson was a 10-year minor league veteran, having been picked by Expos in the 26th round of the 2003 draft. After he failed as a starter in low-A ball in 2005, the Nationals shifted him to the bullpen, where he’s been ever since. His results have largely been mixed in stints in three different farm systems, but he broke through in Triple-A this year, amassing a 1.69 ERA and 15 saves as Nashville’s closer.
While Henderson had a 5.46 ERA in Double-A in 2010 and a 4.28 mark between Double- and Triple-A last year, his mid-90s fastball has kept him employed. He probably doesn’t have enough to go with it to contribute as more than a middle reliever, but it’d be a nice story if he happened to surprise.
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.