From staff reports
Pitchers Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy and Will Smith will be in Joplin as part of the Kansas City Royals Caravan from 3-4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, in front of Vintage Stock at the north end of Northpark Mall.
In addition to the three Kansas City lefthanders, Royals Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Leonard, broadcaster Steve Physioc and mascot Sluggerr are scheduled to be in attendance.
Chen has been the Royals’ best starting pitcher over the past three years, going 35-29 with a 4.39 ERA during that span. Over his 14-year career, he is 71-72 with a 4.60 ERA and 1,022 strikeouts in 351 appearances, including 203 starts. Chen pitched for Atlanta, Philadelphia, the New York Mets, Montreal, Cincinnati, Houston, Boston, Baltimore and Texas before joining the Royals in 2009.
Duffy is 6-10 with a 5.28 ERA in 26 starts since being called up to the majors in May 2011 as a 22-year-old. He opened the 2012 season in Kansas City’s starting rotation, going 2-2 with a 3.90 ERA in six starts before missing the rest of the season with a shoulder injury that required Tommy John surgery.
Smith made his major league debut in May 2012, and went on to start 16 games with a 6-9 record and 5.32 ERA.
After the Royals made trades for pitchers James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana and re-signed Jeremy Guthrie during this offseason, the fifth spot in the rotation is expected to be a battle between Chen, Smith, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza. Duffy and Felipe Paulino are expected to return from their shoulder injuries later in the season.
Leonard pitched 12 seasons for the Royals from 1974-86. He finished 144-106 with a 3.70 ERA and 1,323 strikeouts in 312 appearances. His best seasons came in 1977 and 1978 when he finished fourth and seventh, respectively, in the American League Cy Young voting. He was 20-12 with a 3.04 ERA and 244 strikeouts in 1977 and 21-17 with a 3.33 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 1978.
The current and former players will be available for autographs. Each fan is limited to one autograph per player, and autographs may be limited to the first 150 people in line. The stop in Joplin is being hosted by KKOW Radio and Cable One.
In addition to the stop in Joplin, the Royals South Caravan group will be in Warrensburg, Mo., and Springfield, Mo., on Jan. 20, and Springdale, Ark., and Fort Scott, Kan., on Jan. 21.
Other caravan groups are scheduled to make appearances throughout Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
For more information, go to royals.com.