Danny Duffy, one of the Royals' top pitching prospects, returned to baseball Wednesday, ending a leave of absence he began in March when he reassessed his desire to play.
Duffy was invited to Major League camp by the Royals this spring, but Kansas City's third-round pick in the 2007 First Year Player Draft threw the front office a curve after declaring he needed time off to ponder his commitment to a baseball career.
On Wednesday, he made it clear he's ready to take the mound again.
"Danny took some time off to reassess his priorities and see if this was something he desired to do and realized he did," Scott Sharp, the Royals' director of Minor League operations, told MLB.com. "He missed the game very much and wanted to come back."
Duffy's break came as a shock to many -- the lefty pitched very well in 2009 and was honored as an All-Star Futures Game selection.
"I just think he really felt like, 'Hey, I'm not in this 100 percent right now and I know I can't be in it at 80 percent so I'm going to step back and make sure that I'm ready to do it at 100 percent,'" Sharp said.
Duffy reported to Royals' extended spring training in Surprise, Ariz., and will be evaluated by the coaches there before being assigned to a Minor League team. He was slated to be promoted to Double-A Northwest Arkansas this spring.
"He's indicated to us that he's been throwing, he's been working out and he's excited about returning," Sharp said. "He's one of our better prospects and we're excited to have him back. He's seems to be in a good mental place and ready to go."
Duffy went 9-3 with a 2.98 ERA for Class A Advanced Wilmington last year after going 8-4 with a 2.20 ERA in 17 starts for Class A Burlington in 2008. He began his career in '07 with a 1.45 ERA in 11 outings in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
"We're going to take it slow," Sharp said. "Obviously he was projected to go to Double-A and if he comes back and he pitches and he's throwing and he's ready to go out ... it's not going to be at a higher level than that. It would probably be that level."
Duffy, drafted out of Cabrillo (Calif.) High School, went 5-3 with a 0.60 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings as a senior.