Winter Hot Stove – Edition 10

Well Ducks fans, the hot stove has officially reached its preheat temperature. The team announced today its first signings for the 2014 season. Returning for a fourth year with the Flock is fan favorite Dan Lyons, who has helped lead Long Island to three consecutive appearances in the Atlantic League Championship Series, the last two of which have ended in titles. Joining him is outfielder Jon Myers, who brings a power bat and versatility to the Ducks.

Both players took to Twitter to express their excitement for the upcoming season:

In today’s edition of the Wednesday Winter Hot Stove, we break down the two additions to the roster, hear from the players directly and discuss what Ducks fans can expect from both players in 2014.

Aside from Ray Navarrete and Kevin Baez, there has arguably been no Duck over the past three seasons as recognizable and admired by the fans as Lyons. He came to the team in 2011 as a back-up infielder and quickly took over as the starting shortstop when Javier Colina was injured. After a strong season, he returned in 2012 and put together another solid campaign as the nine-hitter and starter at short. Lyons truly shined though in the postseason, where his place in Ducks history would be etched forever. He drove in six runs total, none bigger than on his go-ahead three-run double in the ninth inning of Game Two in the Championship Series against Lancaster and the championship-winning run on his waddle-off bunt in the ninth inning of Game Five. Those two game-winning hits helped give Long Island its first title in eight seasons and earned Lyons Championship Series MVP honors. The Minnesota native came back again in 2013 and struggled a bit offensively, but his defense was strong once again, and he compiled a .286 postseason average.

By playing a fourth season with the Flock, Lyons joins a list of just 14 players in team history to play four or more seasons with Long Island. Here’s the list:

Ray Navarrete: 8 (2006-13)
Justin Davies: 6 (2000-05)
Doug Jennings: 6 (2000-05)
Chris McCoy: 6 (2000-01, 2010-13)
Kevin Baez: 4 (2002-05)
Rob Cafiero: 4 (2005-08)
Lance Davis: 4 (2004-05, 2007-08)
Lew Ford: 4 (2009, 2011-13)
Randy Leek: 4 (2007-10)
Patrick Lennon: 4 (2002-05)
Bryant Nelson: 4 (2007-08, 2012-13)
Bill Pulsipher: 4 (2004-07)
Gabe Suarez: 4 (2007, 2009-10, 2013)
Joe Valentine: 4 (2007-10)

Ducks fans can expect the same scrappy, energetic style from Lyons in 2014 that he has shown for all three seasons with the Ducks. His style of play has been likened to that of his coach, Bud Harrelson. He grinds out tough at-bats, especially in the ninth spot of the batting order, has quick speed on the basepaths and shows tremendous range defensively. Manager Kevin Baez has no doubt already inserted Lyons into the shortstop position on his lineup card, and Lyons will certainly be looking to rebound at the plate after a regular season that was below his expectations and filled with nagging injuries.

We were able to catch up with Dan over the phone to get his thoughts on a variety of topics:

On his decision to return to the Ducks:
“The last three seasons I’ve been really happy there. I’ve felt like we’ve got a good thing going on between myself and the Ducks, and it’s also a chance to go out and win a championship again. We’ve won two in a row, and we’ve got to go defend that championship again.”

On winning back-to-back Atlantic League championships and the team’s goal for 2014:
“The last two years showed the resilience that our team has. We went through a lot of adversity, and we were able to show that despite going through that, we still belong at the top of the league and can still be champions. We expect to do the same thing again this year, hopefully without a lot of the adversity that we faced. We’re coming into this season with the same goals as we had the last three years I’ve been here, and that’s to go out and win a championship.”

On playing and living on Long Island during the season:
“It’s been, in a word, great. Ever since I got to Long Island, everyone has been great. We’ve had great fans, coaches, teammates and front office. Everyone has been great to me. I got to meet some great people out there, and it just really has become a second home to me. I feel really good and comfortable with everything that’s been going on there on Long Island.”

On rebounding from his 2013 season to improve in 2014:
“Last year was really tough. It was unfortunate that I had all of these nagging injuries, and because our team had a lot of guys that were all hurt at the same time, it was pretty tough for me to get any rest. This year, I’m just stepping up my workouts and making sure that when I get there for the season, I’m ready to go.  The main thing is to keep that going throughout the whole season, to stay in shape and make sure you do your little maintenance things and not let it get to the point where your shoulder and knees are hurting. It’s just keeping up with your body and making sure everything’s in top shape.”

As for Myers, he comes to the Ducks after spending two seasons in the Independent Frontier League with the Gateway Grizzlies. He showed tremendous power while there, clubbing a league-high 25 home runs in 95 games in 2013 and 20 homers in 95 games the year prior. In 2011, he played a season with the Miami Marlins’ rookie-level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League.

In addition to his big bat, Myers brings a great deal of versatility to Kevin Baez’s lineup card. A year ago, he spent time at all three outfield positions as well as first base. The majority of his time was spent in left field (58 games), and that is likely going to be where he begins the season for Long Island. However, he has experience at all four infield positions as well, playing third, short, second and first in 2011 and both third and short briefly in 2012. That kind of flexibility, similar to what P.J. Phillips provided in 2013, will be crucial to navigating through a 140-game Atlantic League season.

We also had the privilege of catching up with Jon after signing his contract:

On his decision to play with the Ducks in 2014:
“I’ve played in the Frontier League for the past two years, and I really wanted to upgrade and go to a better league. The Atlantic League is what I’ve heard and seen is the best Independent League in the country. I was really hoping to prove myself and play to the best of my abilities. If you want to get the shot [at getting to the Major Leagues], you’ve got to play with the big guys. I heard about the Ducks from many people actually. I know Lee Cruz [who played with the Ducks in 2012] and Joash [Brodin] who was there and used to play in the Frontier League. The Ducks were my top choice, so I went with my gut on that feeling.”

On his style of play:
“I’m very focused on being a ‘dirtball’ type of player. I’m a guy that’ll run through walls and really tries to get after it as best as I can to make the plays we need and make every play I can. I really just go all out on every play and don’t really have a care for the body in that regard. I just try to make that big play so we can win every day.”

On his desire to win a championship with the Ducks:
“That was a very big part of my decision. I have always wanted to win championships. Every year that you play, you always want to win a championship. I haven’t won in the three years of professional ball that I’ve played, and that was a huge decision for me. I heard the past two years the Ducks have won, and that’s what you always want to go into. You want to go into a winning organization, and I want to win a championship, bring that home to the Ducks and get that three-peat so that goes into the record books.”

On looking forward to learning from former Major Leaguers on the roster and coaching staff:
“It’s a very high level of play, and it’s a big thing to me to pick any of their brains and better my level of play. I’m a guy that loves to learn and hear what other people have to say. I have learned a lot throughout my career. To pick their brains, especially since they’ve been up to that level, would just be an honor to me, and hopefully that’ll just improve my game to the highest level that it can get up to.”

Surely this is just the beginning of what will be several months of player signings around the Ducks and the Atlantic League leading into Opening Night. We will no doubt be keeping you updated on all of the returners and additions to the Ducks roster and take you beyond the numbers for each player. What questions do you have for the first two Ducks to join the roster for 2014? Leave us your questions in the comments section, and you just might see their answers here on the blog in the coming days and weeks. If you aren’t already, be sure to follow both Lyons (@TheDannyLyons) and Myers (@jmmyers11) on Twitter.


Posted on January 16, 2014, in Player Signings, Winter Hot Stove and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This was a very interesting article. I look forward to attending games in 2014. if this year is anything close to last year, it will be even more entertaining and just fantastic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: