Montgomery reunited with Duffy in return to Royals

Montgomery reunited with Duffy in return to Royals
Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Mike Montgomery collects himself on the mound after giving up a three-run home run to Pittsburgh Pirates' Adam Frazier during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Mike Montgomery and Danny Duffy are being reunited on a pitching staff for Kansas City for the first time since 2011, when they were highly regarded left-handers in the Royals’ minor league system.

Montgomery was traded to Kansas City by the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs for catcher Martin Maldonado on Monday.

“It’s awesome,” Duffy said Tuesday of Montgomery’s return to the organization. “I talked to him on the phone today and he’s pumped to get over here, pumped for this opportunity. I told him we had a great group of guys over here and he’s going to fit right into it. I’m excited, man. I always thought we were going to pitch in ‘The Show’ together. I just didn’t think it would be a decade after I would’ve thought.”

Montgomery was 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in 20 relief appearances for the Cubs this year, and was 14-17 with three saves in 119 games for Chicago over four seasons.

He wasn’t expected to report to the Royals until Wednesday.

Royals’ general manager Dayton Moore said Monday the club intends to use Montgomery in the rotation as a replacement for Homer Bailey, who was dealt to Oakland on Sunday.

“He clearly wants to start,” Moore said about Montgomery. “He’s kind of been used in a very versatile role over there. He’s pitched in the middle, he’s pitched situational — it’s just a good opportunity to get him back and put him in the rotation.

“We’re going to have to stretch him out,” the GM added, “but the plan is for him to start on Friday (at Cleveland). Once we get him here and talk to him and analyze it a little more, we’ll figure out how many pitches he goes.”

The Royals began what might develop into an aggressive dealing of veterans by shipping Bailey to Oakland on Sunday for infield prospect Kevin Merrell.

The 30-year-old Montgomery was selected by the Royals as the 36th overall choice in the 2008 draft. He never made it out of their farm system, but was one of four players dealt to Tampa Bay before the 2013 season for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. Those acquisitions proved crucial to Royals’ World Series teams of 2014-15.

The Rays dealt Montgomery to Seattle and the Mariners eventually traded him to the Cubs.

Duffy experienced a World Series championship with the Royals in 2015, and Montgomery recorded the final out in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series at Cleveland, ending the Cubs’ 108-year championship drought.

“There were times in Wilmington and Burlington and, gosh, Double-A and even Triple-A, I definitely remember him getting ready for a start in Albuquerque and just how locked in he was,” Duffy said. “He’s goofy like me, but he’s definitely focused when it comes down to it. When game time rolls around, he’s definitely a competitor.

“Obviously, he’s a world champion. He was able to do something that literally every young pitcher dreams about doing — that’s throwing the last pitch of the World Series, and he was able to accomplish that. I hope we can have something similar to that in the not-too-distant future.”

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