Category Archives: Ducks News
Happy Opening Day, Ducks fans!
We sincerely hope that all of our loyal blog followers had a wonderful offseason. The first of 140 games during the season is officially upon us tonight, as the Ducks will take the field in Waldorf, Md. to begin a four-game series against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
We’ll have a full post prior to game time with a look at the starting pitching matchup, game notes and the starting lineups for both teams, as we have provided in years past. Before that though, we would like to unveil the Ducks’ full active roster for Opening Day. Teams are allowed to carry 27 players on the active roster through May 31, after which, roster limits are 25.
#21 David Aardsma – RHP
#7 John Brownell – RHP
#25 Keith Couch – RHP
#14 Patrick Crider – LHP
#28 Eury De La Rosa – LHP
#38 Amalio Diaz – RHP
#19 Jim Fuller – LHP
#44 Matt Larkins – RHP
#33 Tim Melville – RHP
#17 Dennis O’Grady – RHP
#40 Rafael Perez – LHP
#27 Rob Rogers – RHP
#9 Zac Treece – RHP
#41 Chin-Hui Tsao – RHP
#29 Tyler Wilson – RHP
#15 Dominic Blanco (L/R)
#23 Alex Burg (R/R)
#6 Giovanny Alfonzo (R/R)
#35 Nate Freiman (R/R)
#34 Marc Krauss (L/R)
#12 Dan Lyons (R/R)
#2 Cody Puckett (R/R)
#13 Elmer Reyes (R/R)
#5 Delta Cleary Jr (S/R)
#24 Fehlandt Lentini (R/R)
#20 Nolan Reimold (R/R)
#26 Angelo Songco (L/R)
As it currently stands, the starting rotation features:
- John Brownell – RHP
- Rafael Perez – LHP
- Keith Couch – RHP
- Tim Melville – RHP
- Matt Larkins – RHP
Right-handed pitcher Rob Rogers, who had been with the team during spring training, has made the team and was signed and activated last night. In a corresponding move, left-handed pitcher Jack Snodgrass was placed on the inactive list.
Stay tuned later today for our first game preview of the season. First pitch for tonight’s season opener in Southern Maryland is scheduled for 6:35 p.m., with the pre-game show beginning at approximately 6:20. Yesterday, the Ducks announced the many ways fans can tune into all game broadcasts throughout the 2017 season. Until then, onto Southern Maryland!
The 2017 season is around the corner as spring training is underway at Bethpage Ballpark
With the start of the 2017 Atlantic League season slated for next Thursday, the Long Island Ducks began spring training on Monday. With a roster full of fresh faces and familiar returners, the Ducks have their sights set on a fourth Atlantic League championship this year. Spirits are high and minds are focused after a defeat in the ALPB Championship Series last year left the Ducks just shy of their ultimate goal.
Monday brought the first day of workouts, where the team took the field at Bethpage Ballpark for the first time for batting practice, defensive drills and simulated games. Former big leaguers Nate Freiman and Nolan Reimold dazzled in smacking the ball out of the park, while Fehlandt Lentini sprayed line drives to all fields. Catcher Alex Burg introduced himself to his new teammates by crushing homer after homer over the left field fence.
Starting pitchers John Brownell and Keith Couch looked sharp in their simulated games, and Taiwanese import and former Los Angeles Dodger Chin-Hui Tsao displayed strong command in his bullpen session. Most exchanged pleasantries and introductions, coupled with a sense of optimism for this year that made the day feel as much like an orientation as it did a practice.
More of the same took place Tuesday morning, as Freiman got things going with an impressive power display – going deep twice to dead centerfield in his first round of batting practice. Cody Puckett found his power stroke crushing long balls over all three levels of advertising in left field.
On the mound, Dennis O’Grady induced weak contact in his simulated game, keeping hitters off balance with an assortment of fastballs, curves and off-speed offerings.
Overall, the Ducks spring training roster is comprised of 17 pitchers, three catchers, six infielders and four outfielders. Eight players on the team have MLB experience, and there are nine players returning from last year’s ALPB Championship Series roster.
(Name, Position, Highest Level…* indicates Spring Training Invitee)
David Aardsma, RHP, MLB
John Brownell, RHP, A
Keith Couch, RHP, Triple-A
Patrick Crider, LHP, Ind.
Eury De La Rosa, LHP, MLB
Amalio Diaz, RHP, Triple-A
Jim Fuller, LHP, Triple-A
Matt Larkins, RHP, Ind.
Tyler Levine*, RHP, Ind.
Dennis O’Grady, RHP, Triple-A
Rafael Perez, LHP, MLB
Rob Rogers*, RHP, Triple-A
Jack Snodgrass, LHP, Triple-A
Zac Treece, RHP, Ind.
Chin-Hui Tsao, RHP, MLB
Tyler Wilson, RHP, A
(Name, Highest Level…* indicates Spring Training Invitee)
Dominic Blanco, A
Alex Burg, Triple-A
Nate Irving*, A
(Name, Highest Level)
Giovanny Alfonzo, A
Nate Freiman, MLB
Marc Krauss, MLB
Dan Lyons, A
Cody Puckett, Triple-A
Elmer Reyes, Triple-A
(Name, Highest Level)
Delta Cleary, Jr., Triple-A
Fehlandt Lentini, Triple-A
Nolan Reimold, MLB
Angelo Songco, Double-A
Spring training for the Ducks continues right through Opening Day, and will include four exhibition games. Three of the four contests will be held at Bethpage Ballpark, with the game against Bridgeport free to everyone. The other two are free for season ticket holders, with a $5 donation to the QuackerJack Foundation applying to the general public.
Thursday, April 13 – 10:30 am – Ducks at Bridgeport Bluefish
Saturday, April 15 – 1:00 pm – Bridgeport Bluefish at Ducks
Monday, April 17 – 12:00 pm – Long Island Black Sox at Ducks
Tuesday, April 18 – 12:00 pm – Long Island Black Sox at Ducks
The Ducks begin their season on Thursday, April 20 with a seven-game road trip at the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs and the Somerset Patriots. They return home for on Friday, April 28 to host the New Britain Bees at 6:35 pm. Gates open at 5:35 pm, and make sure you are part of the first 1,500 fans through the gates to receive your Rich Hill Bobblehead, courtesy of P.C. Richard & Son.
As the calendar now officially reads “2017,” the thoughts of baseball and freshly cut grass are beginning to seep into everyone’s minds around Bethpage Ballpark. Sure, the brand new sod that was laid down earlier this offseason may be covered by eight inches of white powder and the thermometer may read below freezing. However, we are now approximately 12 weeks away from the start of spring training, 14 weeks from the season beginning and 15 weeks from Opening Night on Long Island!
With the arrival of January, the time for teams around the Atlantic League to begin signing players for the upcoming season is just about upon us. News is sure to surface among the eight teams in the coming weeks of roster additions for 2017. Until then, there have been several recent stories about Ducks and Atlantic League alumni involved in coaching ranks around minor league baseball. Let’s take a look at who has been making headlines of late:
ALUMNI DUO TO LEAD BROOKLYN
Local baseball fans here on Long Island will surely remember the name Edgardo Alfonzo. The 12-year Major League veteran spent eight seasons with the New York Mets, earning an All-Star selection in 2000 and helped the Mets to a National League championship later that season. He went on to play just over 1,500 games in his big league career, batting .284 with 146 home runs, 744 RBI and a .299 postseason batting average. Alfonzo would also play for three Atlantic League teams, including Bridgeport (2006), Newark (2010) and the Ducks (2007-08).
Now, the 43-year-old will be managing with the organization he’s best remembered for playing with. The Brooklyn Cyclones announced this past week that Alfonzo will serve as the team’s manager for the 2017 season. He will become the 11th man to lead the New York-Penn League franchise, taking over for the departed Tom Gamboa. Alfonzo has served on Gamboa’s coaching staff for the past three seasons and has developed a strong understanding of both the club and league. After finishing two games under .500 this past season and missing the playoffs, the club is hoping that “Fonzie” will be able to find more success this year while continuing to cultivate a youthful talent pool.
While in the Atlantic League, Alfonzo’s best moments came just down the road from his former office of Shea Stadium. The infielder combined to play 164 games with the Ducks and compiled a .289 batting average with 13 home runs, 83 RBI, 90 runs and 36 doubles. He spent the entire 2007 campaign with the Flock and rejoined the team in 2008 after beginning the year with Quintana Roo in the Mexican League. In each of his two seasons, the Ducks earned postseason berths. Alfonzo would join the Atlantic League again in 2010 with the Newark Bears but hit just .154 in 26 games. He would play three more seasons of winter league baseball in Venezuela before retiring from the game.
Joining Alfonzo on the Cyclones’ staff will be former big league pitcher Royce Ring, who has been hired as Brooklyn’s pitching coach. The left-hander’s name should also ring a few bells for local baseball fans, as he spent time with both the Mets and Yankees in his career. He struggled over 15 games out of the bullpen with the Mets in 2005 but rebounded during their magical 2006 campaign by posting a 2.13 ERA in 11 games. Ring would then make stops with the Padres and Braves before joining the Yankees in 2010. However, he allowed four runs in two and one-third innings of work out of the bullpen, in what would be the final stay of his Major League career.
Ring’s name should also be familiar with Ducks fans, as he spent time on the roster during the 2013 championship season. The southpaw pitched in four games for Long Island and surrendered three runs over three and one-third innings in late May/early June. He was subsequently released and would retire a year later after becoming the pitching coach for the Mets’ rookie-level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League.
Best of luck to Edgardo and Royce in Brooklyn!
HOUSE CONTINUES TO CLIMB THE LADDER
J.R. House, whose time with Long Island was short but certainly sweet, continues to advance up the ladder in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. The former Major League catcher has been named the manager of the Double-A Jackson Generals in the Southern League. He will have the pleasure of managing a squad that just earned the league championship a year ago, albeit while serving as an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.
The advancement for House continues to impress since retiring from the game of baseball. After serving as a coach for two seasons in the Diamondbacks organization, he held a managerial role with the Hillsboro Hops (2014) and Visalia Rawhide (2015-16). In that time, he has compiled a record of 213-143, good for a .598 winning percentage. He led the Hops to the Northwest League championship in 2014 and earned California League Manager of the Year honors with Visalia in 2015. Although his ballclub did not bring home a title in 2016, he led them to a league-best 46-24 record in the first half and a spot in the league’s Championship Series.
House’s time with the Ducks lasted just one season, but it was one of the best offensive seasons by a catcher in team history. The West Virginia native played 113 games and batted .305 with 19 home runs, 81 RBI, 73 runs, 128 hits and 22 doubles. He did not commit a single error in the field, threw out 20 percent of runners attempting to steal and led the pitching staff to the best ERA in the league at 4.17. He was selected as an Atlantic League All-Star during the season and helped the Flock to their first Atlantic League Championship Series appearance since 2004.
Congratulations on the promotion, J.R.!
HOBSON HEADS TO KANE COUNTY
Although he has never donned a Ducks uniform, fans that have frequented Bethpage Ballpark are sure to know the name Butch Hobson. The 65-year-old has amassed more wins than any other manager in Atlantic League history and most recently served six seasons at the helm of the Lancaster Barnstormers. Despite all of his success, including a championship with Lancaster in 2014, the Barnstormers elected not to bring Hobson back following a 2016 season where they missed out on the postseason. The former big leaguer did not have to wait long though, as the Kane County Cougars have hired him to be their manager.
While it may seem large at times, the baseball world is indeed a small one. According to an article from the Chicago Tribune, Hobson reached out to good friend Buddy Bell, who is the Vice President and Assistant GM of the Chicago White Sox. The team had just signed his son, K.C., who played for his dad in Lancaster a year ago after earning Post-Season All-Star honors. Although the White Sox did not have an opening for Butch, the Diamondbacks did. Buddy’s son, Mike, who is the Vice President of Player Development with Arizona, interviewed Hobson and presented him with the job at Kane County.
We are all happy for Butch to have received an opportunity to continue managing the game he loves! However, we will certainly miss playing his favorite tune at the ballpark:
Coaching was certainly a theme today, but that is not all the news there is to share! Be sure to stay tuned to LIDucks.com and “Quack of the Bat” later this week for an announcement regarding the Ducks’ 2017 coaching staff. In addition, be sure to check out the team’s visit to A.P. Willits Elementary School in Syosset last week where a third grade student was honored as part of the TD Bank “Take a Duck to Class” essay contest. CLICK HERE to see the full story!
The day that Ducks fans have been waiting for is finally here! The Atlantic League today released its schedule for the 2017 season, which will also be a milestone year for the circuit. Next year represents the 20th Anniversary Season for the league, which began play back in 1998 with six teams. Only two remain members of the league (Bridgeport Bluefish and Somerset Patriots), but the ALPB has since grown in both the number of teams (now eight) and in distance, reaching as far out as Sugar Land, Texas. Fans will be treated to the same clubs that encompassed the league during a memorable 2016 season and will continue to enjoy a 140-game slate, divided into two 70-game halves, with extremely talented ballplayers among each roster.
Long Island, meanwhile, will also have a lot of similar traits dotting their schedule. They will begin the season and end the season away from Bethpage Ballpark but will be home for some key holiday dates, including Memorial Day Weekend, Independence Day and Labor Day. The Ducks will face each team 20 times like in 2016, though the schedule will not feature an even balance of home and away dates against each team nor an even distribution in first and second half games against each club. Here is a breakdown of Long Island’s slate against their ALPB foes:
|New Britain Bees||
|Southern Maryland Blue Crabs||
|Sugar Land Skeeters||
Although not a perfect split, the only situations in which there are an uneven number of home and road games are against Lancaster and Southern Maryland, two non-divisional opponents, and the difference is fairly small. There are also only two differences in first and second half games, one against the Barnstormers and one against the Patriots. It’s notable that the Ducks have 13 first half meetings with rival Somerset and just seven in the second half. Of those 13 first half matchups, seven will be on Long Island. Those games could very well determine the First Half Liberty Division champion, so it’s somewhat of a benefit that the Ducks have an extra home game against them.
One disadvantage for the Flock as they look to repeat as first half champions is the large number of road games they have in the first half compared to the second half. Of Long Island’s 70 first half games, only 32 are at home while 38 are on the road. An even closer look shows that the Ducks will play just nine home games in June and 19 on the road. Most notably will be a seven-game series in Sugar Land, equaling the team’s longest series ever in the Lone Star state. That comes during the final 10 days of the half, with the Ducks returning home to close out the half June 30-July 2. The month will surely be a major test for a Ducks team that went 31-39 on the road in 2016 (compared to 41-29 at home).
Here is a look at five of the most notable dates on the 2017 schedule:
Fans will surely want to mark the dates that the season begins, both overall and at home, for the Ducks. 2017 will mark the seventh consecutive season in which the Ducks begin their campaign on the road. Long Island opens the season against Southern Maryland, who will be kicking off its 10th Anniversary Season, with four games at Regency Furniture Stadium April 20-23. The Ducks and Blue Crabs will face each other to begin the season for just the second time ever. Both sides met to open the 2009 season and split four meetings in Maryland; they would go on to face each other in a highly entertaining Liberty Division Championship Series, which the Blue Crabs took in five games.
The Ducks will return to Bethpage Ballpark on Friday, April 28 for their Home Opener. This year’s opening game on Long Island will be against the league’s newest franchise, the Bees, who entered the league in 2016. New Britain gave the Ducks some trouble during their inaugural season, taking 11 of the 20 games, so the Ducks will be looking to bounce back this year.
After a tremendous run by the Ducks to their fourth Atlantic League Championship Series appearance in six seasons, players and fans will likely circle the dates of their first meetings with the teams they faced in the 2016 playoffs. For Long Island, they will have an early rematch against the Patriots with three games at TD Bank Ballpark on the opening road trip (April 25-27). Somerset won both of their home games over the Ducks in the 2016 Liberty Division Championship Series, but it was the Ducks who roared back and took three consecutive home games to win the series. The Patriots’ first visit to Long Island will come not too far into the season on the weekend of May 19-21.
As for the Skeeters, they will surely hear the boos of the faithful flock from May 30-June 1 when they fly to Long Island for a three-game set. It will mark their first visit to the Duck Pond since they defeated the Ducks in Game Three of the Atlantic League Championship Series to claim their first-ever league title. Meanwhile, the Ducks will make their first trek down to Texas for the aforementioned seven-game set June 23-29. The only other seven-game series in Texas came in 2014 from September 2-7, but that was due to a rainout that took place on May 26. Long Island will also close their 2017 regular season in Sugar Land September 15-17 after playing their penultimate series of the 2016 campaign in Texas.
FERRY CUP MATCHUPS
The highly anticipated Ferry Cup Series between the Ducks and Bluefish will continue in 2017, marking the ninth year the cross-sound rivals will battle for the Ferry Cup. Long Island won the title last year after taking 12 of 20 meetings with the Bluefish, marking the fifth time in eight years and third time in four years that they earned the Cup. Coincidentally, the first meeting of the year between the two teams since the installment of the Ferry Cup has always been in Bridgeport. That will not change in 2017, as both squads battle for the first time in Bridgeport May 23-25. The Bluefish won’t make their first trip to Bethpage Ballpark until June 9-11. They will also be back on Long Island in a series that could potentially decide the Second Half Liberty Division champion September 8-10, the final three home games of the year for the Ducks. Here are all of the matchups for this year’s Ferry Cup Series:
May 23-25 (Doubleheader on May 24) at Bridgeport
June 2-4 at Bridgeport
June 9-11 at Long Island
July 28-30 at Bridgeport
August 3-6 at Long Island
September 8-10 at Long Island
Fans will be treated to a host of games on holidays or holiday weekends at Bethpage Ballpark in 2017. Independence Day has always been the most highly-anticipated time of the season, and this year, the celebration will be like no other. Those at Bethpage Ballpark will be treated to FOUR consecutive fireworks extravaganzas beginning on Saturday, July 1 and running through Tuesday, July 4. The first two of those dates could be extremely important on the field as well, with them being the final two games of the first half. Last year, 7,063 fans saw the Ducks clinch the First Half Liberty Division title on July 2 against Sugar Land. Then, a franchise record crowd of 7,602 fans attended the Ducks-Skeeters game on July 3, the final day of the first half.
While the Ducks will not have a home game on Memorial Day itself, those looking to enjoy a relaxing Memorial Day weekend can do so at Bethpage Ballpark. Long Island will host the Lancaster Barnstormers May 26-28, with a 6:35 game on Friday night, a day/night doubleheader on Saturday (1:05 and 6:35) and an afternoon matinee at 1:35 on Sunday. Bethpage Ballpark will also be the perfect place to spend your Labor Day weekend in 2017. The Ducks will host the Bees for a four-game weekend wraparound set September 1-4, including a matinee on Labor Day at 1:35 p.m.
For the fifth consecutive season, the Ducks will be hosting a special Camp Day in 2017. As was the case in 2016, this year’s date will be on Wednesday, July 26 when Long Island hosts Sugar Land. Unlike any other weekday game, first pitch for this game will be at a special time of 11:05 a.m. to accommodate campers around Long Island. Each season that the Ducks have hosted this event, thousands of kids have packed the ballpark with their respective camp groups to cheer on the Flock and have a fun outing with their fellow campers.
If your child attends summer camp on Long Island, this is an event they will surely want to attend. Camps will be able to begin reserving outings for Camp Day in November on Group Sales Opening Day. Be sure to keep your eye out at LIDucks.com for a date announcement and reach out to your child’s camp to make sure they reserve their outing as early as possible!
Which dates are you looking forward to the most on the 2017 schedule? Let us know in the comments section of this post. In addition, our promotional schedule will be announced in early March, so fans will be able to get a first look at some of the most notable giveaways and theme nights on the calendar for the Ducks’ 18th season of play.
Happy New Year Ducks fans! The 2016 calendar year has officially begun, and we hope everybody enjoyed their holiday season. The start of a new year is exciting for so many reasons. Opening Day feels like it’s just around the corner, and teams begin to sign players for the upcoming season. Although there is no news to report just yet regarding additions to the Ducks’ roster for 2016, there have been some items of note regarding a few team alumni. We’ll have some more in-depth stories on these topics in the coming weeks, but here are a few stories to help get the new year rolling:
Long Island’s roster in 2012 featured a close-knit group of players, including many veterans, who came together during the postseason and ended the Ducks’ championship drought at eight years. Now, just over three years later, two players from that team have landed managerial jobs in affiliated baseball. Mitch Canham, who was the starting catcher during the championship run, was named the manager of the Clinton Lumberkings. They are the Single-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners in the Midwest League. Canham played this past season with the Lincoln Salt Dogs of the independent American Association after playing two seasons of affiliated ball with the Royals and Nationals organizations. This will be his first experience coaching professionally, though he has provided baseball instruction to kids through BASE By Pros, LLC, of which he is the founder and CEO.
In addition, Ryan Garko was chosen as the next manager of the Tulsa Drillers, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Texas League. The former big leaguer dominated with the Ducks early in 2012 and was rewarded with a contract from the Tampa Bay Rays organization in May. Since his stint with Double-A Montgomery, he took a year off before joining his alma mater, Stanford University, as an assistant coach. This will also be his first experience coaching in professional baseball. Coincidentally, neither Canham nor Garko ever played in the organization which they are now managing in. They join a growing list of Ducks alumni who are managers in affiliated baseball, including 2012 ALPB champion Shawn Williams (Lakewood – A, Phillies) and 2011 Duck J.R. House (Visalia – A+, Diamondbacks).
Brendan Monaghan was a bright spot during a tough season for the Ducks in 2010. Despite Long Island going 70-68 and missing the postseason for the first time since 2003, the catcher put together impressive numbers. He batted .291 in 72 games and earned an All-Star selection in a year which the Ducks hosted the midsummer classic. Since then, he has held several coaching positions in the college ranks and was recently named the pitching coach for George Washington University. Monaghan has previously served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator with UMASS Lowell and as a volunteer assistant coach with St. John’s University, where he played collegiate baseball.
Donnie Veal had a whirlwind of a season in 2015. He began the year in the Atlanta Braves organization and made five appearances with the big league club between April 30 and May 31. However, he was released in June and went on to find success in the bullpen with the Ducks, going 1-0 with a 1.45 ERA in 20 games. Now, the left-hander will have another opportunity to make it back to The Show. The Texas Rangers signed Veal to a minor league contract just before the end of 2015, making it the fifth organization he has played for (Cubs, Pirates, White Sox, Braves). He possesses a hard fastball and has five years of experience at the game’s highest level. We’ll be keeping a close eye on where he ends up out of Spring Training and if he can join the list of Ducks alumni to return to the big leagues.
The Ducks ended 2015 and will begin 2016 with a very active presence in the Long Island community. As part of their annual tradition, the team visited three hospitals in the area to help distribute toys to children in pediatric units. These gifts were donated by fans during the month of December at the Waddle In Shop. Helping make the visits to Good Samaritan Hospital, North Shore LIJ/Southside Hospital and Stony Brook Children’s were co-owner/coach Buddy Harrelson, manager Kevin Baez and pitcher Bruce Kern. The Wiseman from WHLI also joined in for the fun.
In addition, the Ducks made two school visits as part of the annual TD Bank “Take a Duck to Class” essay contest. Samantha Rivera, a third grader at North Coleman Road Elementary School in Centereach, and Sean Napoli, a sixth grader at Jonas E. Salk Middle School in Levittown, both had special assemblies to honor them for writing winning essays. Along with getting a visit from QuackerJack, they were joined by those who they chose as their “Hero in the Community” in their essays. Samantha wrote about the Centereach Fire Department while Sean highlighted his popa (grandfather), Anthony, who is a veteran of the United States Navy and a survivor of stomach cancer. On Tuesday, the Ducks will be visiting Kevin Mauri, a fourth grader at Bayview Elementary School in West Islip. Finally, on January 22, the Ducks will recognize Ayse Yildiz, a fifth grader at Santapogue Elementary School in West Babylon.
As the 2016 year begins, we are interested in what you would like to read about on the blog. Are there any topics you would like to see discussed more? Do you have a story idea to share with us? We created “Quack of the Bat” to bring you, the fans, more in-depth coverage of the Ducks and features that go beyond the headlines. Feel free to let us know what you would like to see included here, and we will do our best to provide you with it. Stay tuned for more on these bits of news, including quotes from many of the Ducks alumni.