Rafael Betancourt nearing return to Rockies


Rafael Betancourt hasn’t pitched since having an emergency appendectomy on July 20, but the Rockies closer is finally nearing a return from the disabled list.

Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that Betancourt threw a simulated game Monday, with manager Walt Weiss saying afterward that “it went really well” and “the plan is for him to go out and pitch on Thursday.”

Thursday’s outing would be at Triple-A, so presumably if things continue to go well Betancourt could rejoin the Rockies by next week. Rex Brothers has thrived as the fill-in closer, but Betancourt was very good in the ninth-inning role before having his appendix removed.

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.