Duffy on KC: 'I wouldn't have it any other way'

Lefty signs 5-year deal to remain with Royals through early free agency

Duffy on KC: 'I wouldn't have it any other way'

KANSAS CITY -- Back in 2010, Royals left-hander Danny Duffy was toiling in the Minor Leagues when he suddenly decided he'd had enough of baseball and simply quit. He packed his bags and headed for his hometown of Lompoc, Calif.

At the time, the Royals and Duffy, a third-round pick in the 2007 Draft, called the early retirement a matter of "personal issues." Before he went home, he had a chat with Royals officials Scott Sharp, J.J. Picollo and Dayton Moore.

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"Seems like yesterday," Duffy said at a press conference Tuesday to formally announce his five-year contract extension for $65 million. "I was sitting in an office, and Scott, J.J. and Dayton were sitting there. I've never spoken much about it. I kind of poured my heart out to them.

"Basically, I was just anxious about a lot of things. A lot of good things were happening. But I had a little hiccup injury in my arm, but that wasn't the reason. I just went home and tried to figure out things."

Duffy wound up taking about three months off before then deciding to resume pursuing his dream. The Royals stuck by him all the way.

"I went home and hung out with my parents and got right with God and the rest is history," Duffy said. "I then had the confidence to come back. I feel like that wouldn't have been the same scenario in a lot of different organizations. It's been an uneven path, but I feel like I play for the perfect team."

Duffy's breakout suggests he could be a bargain

Moore, on Tuesday, also recalled that crossroads in 2010.

"At the time we just listened," Moore said. "We made it clear to Danny and his family that we'd be here to support him whether it was baseball or whatever he wanted to do.

"One of the blessings of this job is you get to be around young players with great dreams and innocent drives to be the best. You get to be able to watch them mature and grow as talent and people. That's one of the rewarding aspects of the position I'm in."

Petriello on Duffy's extension

And now, almost seven years later, Duffy (12-3, 3.51 ERA in 2016) has emerged as the team ace and one of the top left-handed starters in baseball. With his free-agency looming after this season, the Royals, as anticipated, locked him into a long-term deal.

Moore admitted this signing held a special place in his heart.

"Absolutely," Moore said. "Any time you make a commitment to a player and they make a commitment to you, it's a bond that lasts forever. It's been a joy to be able to watch Danny mature and grow as a talent and as a person."

Duffy felt the same way, especially after the Royals stuck with him through his abrupt retirement and his Tommy John surgery in 2012.

"That's another huge reason I wanted to stay," Duffy said. "Dayton is someone who cares about the person and not just the player. I went away and I went home. I needed to. I had all this good stuff happening, but I didn't have any foundation. A lot of things were going to fall off."

Duffy's monster game

But now, Duffy, 28, finds himself as the team ace and both the Royals and Duffy figured something long term would happen.

"We have had talks for a while," Duffy said. "I obviously had a lot of interest to stay. The last three days went pretty fast."

A few years ago, Duffy made the much-traveled comment that he wanted to be "buried as a Royal," and he recently moved to Kansas City full-time. He explained he has a crush on Kansas City and the Royals.

"I think my hometown is a small town,' Duffy said. "And this place has a small-town vibe. Everybody is extremely friendly. This is home now. I wouldn't have it any other way."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.