Lew Ford can still make contact. Yes, he’s 41 — but the six-season MLB veteran remains hard to get out. Now in his ninth season with the Ducks, the former Twin and Oriole started the season hot, hitting .300 in the first two weeks. He’s cooled off a little — hitting .269 entering Saturday’s game against the Somerset Patriots, but he still ranked fourth among active Ducks in batting average and fifth in OPS (.719).
“It’s just baseball,” Ford said of his hot start. “You go through stretches where you’re playing well and some where you don’t. I just happened to start off the season playing well. Right now, I’d like to be hitting a little better than I am. That’s part of it, you’re always trying to get better and that’s what we’re doing.”
Eight months ago, Ford wasn’t quite sure if “getting better” was even in the cards. After the Ducks lost the Atlantic League Championship Series to York last September, Ford said he hadn’t completely made up his mind about his future. Retirement was a thought, but a fleeting one.
Ford said he decided early in the off-season that he wanted to give it at least one more go and, by the way, he’s producing offensively and can clearly still play.
“At the end of last year, I had in my mind that I wanted to play another year,” Ford said. “As the winter went on, my mind didn’t change . . . For me, it was more of a normal winter where I was preparing to play again this year the whole time. It wasn’t just like I decided to play at the last minute. I was preparing the entire winter.”
Hitting has never really been a problem for Ford — lately, it’s been health. Over the last few seasons, he’s been bothered by a bad hamstring. But that problem appears to be in the past, as Ford said he played the first month of the season without any issues.
“I don’t have any injuries right now,” Ford said. “I feel good in that sense. Just like any other season, your body is sore and you have to take care of yourself . . . and work to reduce the chance of any kind of injury.”
Yanks grab Castillo
And the first Ducks player to leave for a major league organization this season is . . . Wilkin Castillo. The Yankees purchased the former Ducks catcher’s contract on Thursday and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, where he played 45 games last season.
Castillo hit .314 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 20 games with the Ducks. He played 22 games with the Reds in 2008-2009, hitting .314 with two RBIs in 37 plate appearances.
Former Met Wally Backman makes his return to New York next weekend when the team he manages, the New Britain Bees, visit Central Islip for the first time this season. Backman’s Bees have not been bashing. Entering Saturday, they were 9-17, 8 1⁄2 games back of the Patriots in the Liberty Division. The Ducks won two of three from the Bees in New Britain earlier this month.
Backman, a member of the 1986 World Series champion Mets, coached in the Mets minor league system from 2009-16, managing at all three levels. His time with the organization ended in 2016, resulting in a public dispute over the nature of his departure.
Francisco Rodriguez will not end his Ducks career unblemished. After tossing five straight scoreless innings to begin his stintt with the Ducks, K-Rod allowed his first earned run and blew a save in a 6-3 loss to the Road Warriors Wednesday. Three runs crossed in the inning, but thanks to two infield errors, only one was charged to Rodriguez. Entering Saturday night’s game, Rodriguez was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA and four saves in six appearances. He allowed five hits, struck out six, and walked two in six innings.