Posted on September 6, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Matt Duffy is expected to be shut down and undergo surgery on his achilles that will end his season. The team has not confirmed the news, but a report in the Tampa Bay Times states that Duffy will have the surgery “to address the lingering soreness stemming from his earlier left Achilles injury.” It’s believed that Duffy will play through the end of the week before leaving the team to have the surgery.
The Rays acquired Duffy at the trade deadline, as he was the key figure in a trade with the San Francisco Giants involving starting pitcher Matt Moore. Duffy was still on the DL and on a minor league rehab assignment at the time of the trade. After continuing his rehab after the trade, the Rays activated Duffy on August 11. Since then, Duffy has hit .276 with a .655 OPS in 21 games, although he’s been primarily used as a designated hitter outside of a few innings at third base on Monday after Evan Longoria left the game after being hit on the hand.
Despite coming off the DL last month, Duffy has not been at 100%, and playing on artificial turf at his new home ballpark may not be helping. “We’re kind of all learning with it, understanding what it can take,” Duffy said last week. “It seems to be one extra day if we’re on the road. If we’re at home [on the artificial surface] the inflammation creeps in a little quick. But I think everybody is doing a pretty good job with it. It’s just me being honest about what I feel and not being too stubborn feeling that I can play through everything.”
If the report in the Tampa Bay Times is accurate, Duffy is no longer able to play through the pain in his achilles that has affected him for most of the season. Duffy had the option of undergoing surgery earlier in the season, but chose not to do so because of how much time he would miss. Of course, at the time, Duffy was with the Giants, a team playing for a spot in the postseason. He is no longer on a team with hopes of going to the postseason in 2016, which changes the situation.
The hope is that by undergoing the surgery now, Duffy will be fully recovered by spring training in 2017. It’s likely that the Rays view Duffy as their potential shortstop of the future, despite knowing about his achilles injury and the fact that he played primarily third base with the Giants. Duffy also put up somewhat disappointing numbers offensively this year after a breakout season in 2015.
If Duffy is indeed out for the final few weeks of 2016, Brad Miller is likely to get most of the time at shortstop for the Rays. Miller has started 88 games at shortstop this season, but trading for Duffy indicates that the Rays don’t view him as the long-term solution at that position. Of course, it appears the Rays will have to wait until 2017 to get a chance to see Duffy play shortstop, as he is reportedly headed for season-ending surgery on his achilles.