(AP) Danny Duffy, who began the 2016 season in the bullpen, will be the Opening Day starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals.
According to the Associated Press, manager Ned Yost also announced the rest of his rotation Saturday. Ian Kennedy will start the second game and the April 10 home opener against Oakland. Jason Hammel, Jason Vargas and Nathan Karns will round out the rotation in that order.
The 28-year-old Duffy returned to the Royals’ camp wearing a gold medal after helping Team USA win the World Baseball Classic. He went 2-0 in the WBC.
The left-hander made 15 relief appearances last season before being inserted into the rotation on May 15. He went 12-3 in 26 starts, winning 10 straight decisions from June 11 to Aug. 21. He set a franchise record with 16 strikeouts on Aug. 1 at Tampa Bay.
Duffy walked away from baseball during spring training in 2010 and returned on June 2. He underwent Tommy John surgery on June 13, 2012.
Yost told Duffy of his decision Friday after the pitcher allowed three runs over six innings against Seattle, but not before teasing him initially. Yost informed Duffy that Hammel would start the opener and to get ready for the third game before sharing the real plan with him.
While Yost may have known for weeks that Duffy would be his No. 1 starter, Duffy did not take it for granted.
Kansas City opens the season April 3 at Minnesota.