With just 11 days left until the start of the 2017 season, the Tampa Bay Rays are seeking answers on the slow recovery of shortstop Matt Duffy. As it stands, it does not appear that Duffy will be ready by April 2, leaving Tim Beckham to slot in as the Opening Day shortstop.
Duffy, who was acquired from the San Francisco Giants in the Matt Moore trade, underwent heel surgery on September 9 with the expectation he would be ready for Opening Day. However, the progress has been slow and he has been limited to drills and strengthening exercises on his left heel. Per Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), Duffy will be sidelined into April.
The shortstop told Bill Chastain (MLB.com) that he’s gained strength in his heel, and he’s doing countless baseball activities. He, however, has not done any running yet, nor has he fielded ground balls in game conditions. The next big step for Duffy will come when he runs for the first time, although the timetable for that particular activity is uncertain.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said Duffy could go to Charlotte to see Dr. Bob Anderson, the orthopedist who performed the surgery. Cash all but counted Duffy out for Opening Day, and potentially for much of April.
I hope in the next few days we get a little more clarity, Cash said Tuesday. I know we’re talking to doctors and stuff like that trying to get a sense. I think we’re to the point now that some of these issues might not even be from the actual surgery, and I’m saying that in a good way. Maybe we get him checked out and it’s something we can do something different with and treat a little differently.
INF Daniel Robertson — who’s looked better at the plate, and in the field, since the start of Spring Training — could make the team as a utility infielder, behind Beckham, given their newfound need for a right-handed bat. Per Topkin, that depends on whether the Rays add a right-handed hitting outfielder. Robertson would also be competing against Michael McKenry or Nick Franklin for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
I’m happy to be out there playing, having fun, feeling relaxed, Robertson told the Tampa Bay Times. I’m really free of mind right not, letting the game come to me.