Matt Duffy saw it coming, even if he was hoping the dream would continue.
Once veteran slugger Evan Gattis returned from the disabled list for the Houston Astros, a corresponding move needed to be made.
And that meant Duffy would be returning to Triple-A – despite winning last year’s Pacific Coast League MVP award.
But the 27-year-old isn’t sulking by any means about being back with the Fresno Grizzlies.
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My approach is where ever you are, make that your big leagues.
Grizzlies cleanup hitter Matt Duffy
“Baseball is hard enough as it is,” Duffy said. “To have other distractions and thoughts going through your mind, it’s going to make it even harder.
“My approach is wherever you are, make that your big leagues.”
Duffy’s demotion last week ended a string of highs in his career.
On top of being named PCL MVP and helping position the Grizzlies to win league and Triple-A National championships, Duffy was called up to the majors for the first time in his career last September.
“Obviously, you don’t want to leave your buddies right before the end of the season,” Duffy said. “But I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.
“The ultimate goal for any guy who plays this game is to make it to the big leagues.”
Then, Duffy was added to the Astros’ playoff roster for an American League wild-card game in New York.
And after the Astros defeated the Yankees to move on to the divisional series against the Kansas City Royals, Duffy remained in the Houston dugout, though as an inactive player.
“The whole time I was up there, it was a very intense race,” Duffy said. “To see that type of baseball right there and be a part of it, it was a great learning experience.”
Matt Duffy has had quite a ride since he was named PCL MVP last season. He got called up for the first time in his career, made the Astros playoff roster for one round and then made this Opening Day roster this season.
To top off his big league experience to date, Duffy made the Astros’ 2016 opening day roster as a reserve right-handed bat and corner infielder.
Duffy hit just .163 in spring training, but he had three homers and seven RBIs.
“That was awesome,” Duffy said. “And to have opening day in New York, it was a blast.”
His nice run finally ended when Gattis healed, which sent Duffy back down to Fresno.
In three at-bats with the Astros this season, Duffy went hitless with two strikeouts.
In eight games and eight at-bats last year with the big club, he had two hits, drew one walk and struck out six times.
He’s got to fight his way to get back up again. The only way to do that is to get back to his A game here.
Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco
“He’s got to fight his way to get back up again,” Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “The only way to do that is to get back to his A game here.
“He hasn’t played in a while. He’s making some adjustments at the plate. Once he gets that done, he’s going to be fine.”
In addition to trying to rediscover his hitting groove, Duffy is playing an entirely new position in left field.
He’s been a corner infielder his whole career, seeing most of his time at third.
But with the Astros deep at both corner spots, including team sixth-ranked prospect Colin Moran at third, Duffy agreed to try the outfield.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played outfield in my life,” Duffy said. “Maybe an inning in college? I never started there.
“But I see it as a chance to make myself more versatile. I’m sure there will be some learning curves. That’s fine. I’m good with that. This is the place to figure it out.”