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Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Duffy Aims for Late May Return

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Sep 7, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Matt Duffy (5) looks on at Tropicana Field against the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays defeated the Orioles 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 7, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Matt Duffy (5) looks on at Tropicana Field against the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays defeated the Orioles 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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A slower than normal recovery and continued soreness from off-season surgery, Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Matt Duffy is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

At the trade deadline last summer, the Tampa Bay Rays acquired shortstop Matt Duffy from the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Matt Moore even though Duffy was injured and on the disabled list. Just weeks before the trade, when the Giants were in town Duffy sustained the Achilles heel injury, so the Rays were aware but made the deal as he was the key acquisition.

Duffy would make his debut with the Rays on August 12, however, continuing soreness in the Achilles heel followed throughout the remaining weeks of the season leading to shutting down Duffy early as he would require season-ending surgery. Duffy would manage to play in just 21 games for the Rays slashing .276/.300/.355 (21-for-76) with one home run and seven RBIs.

The surgery would address the problem and was considered a simple procedure of shaving the heel bone down to reduce irritation to the Achilles heel – by having the season-ending surgery Duffy would be 100 percent ready for spring training and the season. As we all know by now, that was not the case.

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The Rays were patient throughout spring training, not wanting to rush Duffy back, making sure that he was 100 percent ready. There was hope that by mid-March Duffy would be game ready that however never happened, as Duffy’s recovery was slower than expected.

Full speed workouts, such as batting practice, running, taking ground balls had to be curtailed, as Duffy would have soreness and pain after the workouts. Although this was not considered a setback, but just a precaution to curtail his workouts it did however mean that he would not get into any spring training games and would could require him to open the season on the disabled list.

The disabled list is where Duffy would begin the season and is where he is as of today, but the news is encouraging as Duffy has begun running the bases and is doing so at Tropicana Field under the watchful eyes of head trainer Ron Porterfield and manager Kevin Cash. Duffy is on a workout routine alternating running the bases and taking grounders as the Rays amp up his workouts.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports Duffy ran the bases for the first time on Monday and felt good the next day. Duffy will run again on Monday, and if all goes well the Rays will make a decision as to whether or not he is ready to begin a rehab assignment.

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While it is good news that Duffy is finally nearing a return, it will also mean that Tim Beckham who has been at short in his absence is likely to see his playing time reduced. On the other hand, if he can continue to produce offensively, which he has done so far slashing .264/.295/.500 with six home runs and 15 RBIs (113 at-bats) in 29 games, he could force Cash to platoon him at second with Brad Miller.

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