Daniel Fields, Long Island Ducks outfielder, returns to the dugout...

Daniel Fields, Long Island Ducks outfielder, returns to the dugout in between inning of an exhibition game against the visiting Long Island Black Sox at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip on May 26. Credit: James Escher

It wasn’t a total surprise that Ducks outfielder Daniel Fields found himself mired in a massive slump at the beginning of this season. A year without baseball was bound to manifest itself in one of two ways — a ‘Gosh, how I’ve missed this’ hot streak or ‘How do I do this again?’ cold one.

For Fields, it was the later at first. He hit .179 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 19 games in June.

Then July came and Fields broke out. He hit .417 with three home runs and 21 RBIs in 22 games, returning to the form that both he and the Ducks were accustomed to. He reeled off a 13-game on-base streak midway through the month in which he hit .474 with five doubles, three home runs, 17 RBIs, 12 runs, and a .565 on-base percentage.

Fields was named Atlantic League Player of the Month for July, recognition for being as hard an out as he’d ever been in four years in the league.

"He really just started taking better at-bats," Ducks hitting coach Lew Ford said. "He started driving the ball, less strikeouts, and was swinging at better pitches. He’s a good hitter. He’s hit well in the past for us. He just got hot and ran with it."

Fields said he brought back a small leg kick to help with his timing at the plate — a minor move that made the difference.

"That just kind of helped me sync my swing, and just sync my timing with the pitcher," said Fields, 30, who had three at-bats with the Tigers in 2015. "It got me back in the flow of things."

Fields’ hot month coincided with the Ducks winning a franchise record-tying 12 straight games and cruising to the Atlantic League North Division first half championship.

"Everybody was upbeat," Fields said. "We knew we had the winning streak going, we just wanted to keep it going . . . You definitely feed off the energy from everybody."

Because the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19, Fields spent last summer at home in Michigan. Not able to find work at an MLB alternate site, he gave lessons at All Fields Hitting Baseball Academy, which he runs with his brother, Aaron Fields, and his father, Bruce Fields, a former outfielder and a hitting coach in the Mets' organization.

"But for the most part, I kind of just relaxed," Fields said. "There wasn't a whole lot to do unless you were going outside and were away from people."

When Fields finally got back to Long Island in late May, the rust was a little harder to shake off than he expected.

"Especially just getting the body ready," Fields said. "It seemed like it took a lot longer than it usually takes. Obviously, we're used to getting our bodies going and moving around at the same time every year. But then, not playing for a whole year and not really moving around like you were used to, it definitely took a lot longer than usual."

In August, Fields’ playing time has decreased a bit and his production has suffered. Entering this weekend’s series against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, he was hitting .217 with one RBI in 11 games (23 at-bats) this month.

But, if July is any indication, the potential for Fields to carry the Ducks is there. And, as October slowly approaches, it’s a good possibility to have.

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