It’s Spring Training Part II for new Ducks Travis Snider and David Washington, although Part I was a lot warmer.
As unsigned free agents when major-league camps opened in February, the two participated in the MLB Players Association free-agent camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Like so many in-limbo major-leaguers this past winter, both were looking for jobs. But after leaving the camp unsigned, Snider and Washington found a home with the Ducks, who opened camp in chilly Central Islip this past week in advance of their 19th season April 27 in Waldorf, Maryland, against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. Their home opener is May 4 against the Blue Crabs.
Snider, an outfielder, played parts of eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Pirates and Orioles. He last played in the majors for the 2015 Pirates and spent last season with Rangers and Mets minor-league affiliates. Washington, a first baseman-outfielder, played in three games with the Orioles last season. Both became free agents in November.
“For me, it was a positive experience,” Snider said of the MLBPA camp. “I think everyone’s goal going down there was to get a job and, for me, that obviously didn’t transpire. It was something where I got a chance to be around a lot of guys who played in the major leagues, a lot of coaches, develop some really good relationships and meet a lot of great people.”
Players like Washington and Snider exist in a split mindset. They want to help the Ducks reach their goal of making it back to — and winning — the Atlantic League Championship Series, but they would rather not be around for the whole season. Ideally, they would make it back to a major-league organization.
“I think you focus on the winning part,” Washington said. “That’s the thing you have the most control over. What happens on the business side, like getting signed, comes with playing well. The best thing is to focus on winning. So I’m just trying to win games.”
Snider and Washington are two of 11 players on the Ducks’ roster with big-league experience. That group includes returning Ducks outfielder and hitting coach Lew Ford and pitcher Jake Dunning, as well as newcomers Ashur Tolliver, who pitched in three games with the world champion Astros last season; former Braves All-Star pitcher Jair Jurrjens and former Mets utilityman Jordany Valdespin.
“I think this team is as strong a team as we’ve had on Opening Day at any point in our history,” Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff said. “I think we’re better than we were last year.”
Twelve players who were with the Ducks last season returned to spring training, including mainstays John Brownell, who also is the team’s pitching coach this season, and shortstop Dan Lyons.
Matt Larkins and Jake Fisher return to what is expected to be a strong, deep pitching staff. Fisher struck out 15 batters in 16 1⁄3 playoff innings. The 27-year old pitched a complete game and struck out nine batters in the Ducks’ Game 3 victory over the Somerset Patriots in last season’s Liberty Division Championship Series.
Former MLBers on the Ducks’ roster:
Pitchers, MLB games
Vinnie Pestano , RHP 223
Jair Jurrjens, RHP 130
Jake Dunning, RHP 30
Ashur Tolliver, LHP 8
Position players, MLB games
Travis Snider, OF 630
Lew Ford, OF 519
Jordany Valdespin, 2B-OF 214
Tyler Holt, OF 156
Wilkin Castillo, C 22
David Washington, 1B-OF 3
Daniel Fields OF 1
April 27 at Southern Maryland
May 4 vs. Southern Maryland, 6:35 p.m.