“I’m ready for it, man.”

Duffman’s pumped and so are we. pic.twitter.com/jUnGIdZZuq

— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) July 15, 2020

Cabrillo High alum Danny Duffy will be the opening day starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals on Friday at Cleveland.

The game will begin a Major League Baseball regular season that’s been shortened to 60 games because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m really pumped about it,” the left-handed Duffy, 31, said in a press conference. “It means a lot to me. I’ve put in a lot of work.”

This will be Duffy’s third opening day start in his 10-year career with the Royals. He had the honor in 2017 and 2018.

He’ll face former UCSB standout Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians. Bieber is coming off a terrific 2019 season. He went 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA, 259 strikeouts in 214.1 innings and a WHIP of 1.05.

Bieber struck out nine and looked sharp, allowing one run on four hits and no walks in his final tuneup before the opener. He told Cleveland.com he feels “really, really good” and credited the work he was able to put in during the coronavirus quarantine for keeping him ready when he arrived at summer camp.

“I feel like we managed not only my buildup, but pretty much everybody’s buildup really well over here, and I feel like as a team, we’re definitely ready to rock,” he said. “On a personal level, yeah, I’m stoked for opening day. I’m ready to go.”

Initially, Kansas City manager Mike Matheny had Duffy and right-hander Brad Keller competing for the starting job. But Keller, last season’s opening-day starter, tested positive for COVID-19 on July 7. He returned to training last Friday.

“I feel so bad for Brad,” Duffy said. “I really wanted this to be a competition. I thought it would be a heated one.”

Matheny said Duffy is throwing the ball well and feels strong.

“I put a lot of weight on that guy throwing the first game,” the manager said in the press conference. “It’s just one game, but Danny has the success, the longevity to set the tone. We’re pushing him to embrace that role. His stuff absolutely lends itself to be in that conversation for him taking the ball that first day and helping us get off to a good start.”

When Duffy steps on the mound at Progressive Field, the atmosphere will be surreal as no fans will be in the stadium.

“It’s definitely going to be different,” he said. “The game is not the same without fans in the stands. But we have a job to do. The job is still clear, but it’s definitely going to be an adjustment.”

Nevertheless, he’s thrilled to step on the field and get the season going.

“I’m looking forward to it, man. I know we’re not going to have the atmosphere, the flyovers … or maybe they will. That would be cool if they did it for the boys,” he said. “It is going to be different, but we’re ready for it. You can normalize anything if you put your mind to it. As a team that is younger than in the past, this format may very well play right into our hands. I’m really looking forward to seeing how we do and how we fare.”

Duffy finished the 2019 season with a 7-6 record. He had a 4.34 ERA with 115 strikeouts, 46 walks, a .251 opponent’s batting average and 1.31 WHIP in 130 2/3 innings (23 starts).

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at bpunzal@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at bpunzal@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.