Long Island Ducks starting pitcher Bennett Parry delivers a pitch...

Long Island Ducks starting pitcher Bennett Parry delivers a pitch against the Dogecoin Ball Club, Saturday, April 16, 2022 at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip. Credit: George A Faella

Bennett Parry should have been bursting at the seams, but he wasn’t. It was certainly a strange feeling, one that defied conventional thought, but there it was.

It was last spring and, after the pandemic canceled his 2020 season, Parry just didn’t feel like playing baseball anymore. A year away from the game, and the lefthanded pitcher should have been counting the minutes until Opening Night. But, he wasn’t.

“Mentally, I just didn’t feel there,” Parry said. “I felt like I was done, so I retired.”

But, baseball players in their late 20’s – he’s 30 now – typically aren’t done for long and about midway through last summer, Parry decided he wasn’t either.

“I started to really miss it,” he said. “I stated training again, trying to see if there was anything left in the tank. I felt good, hit up (Ducks president/general manager Michael) Pfaff, and luckily they had me back.” 

Bringing Parry back this season was a no-brainer. He has had a lot of success in Central Islip, probably too much. It’s hard to hide strikeouts at Fairfield Properties Ballpark, and in two seasons, the 6-foot, 6-inch Parry had been among the most overpowering pitchers in the league, drawing the eye of the international game.

In 2018, Parry started the Atlantic League All-Star Game for the Liberty Division, got his contract purchased by the Chinatrust Brothers of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in early August, and still finished second in the Atlantic League in strikeouts – despite not being in the league for the final month and a half

A year later, he made five starts with the Ducks, struck out 32 batters in 26 2/3 innings, and signed with the Mexican League.

It may be a few years later, but Parry, a former Orioles minor-leaguer, is back to fooling Atlantic League hitters. In two starts, he’s struck out 11 in eight innings and allowed four earned runs. As of Friday night, he was tied for fifth in the league in strikeouts, four behind High Point’s Brady Lail.  

“(Parry) knows the league,” said Ducks outfielder/hitting coach Lew Ford. “He was our ace in the past, so really we could have four aces on this team.”

It’s almost as if he didn’t take two years off.

“I just do what I’ve always done,” Parry said before the season. “I had a successful career. I don’t try to replicate (past success) or try to make it perfect. I just kind of do what I do, stick to my process, stick to the way I pitch, and I have a lot of confidence it’ll work out.”

Parry, who hosts a sports podcast with former Ducks teammate David Washington called ‘Riding the Bus,’ spent last summer coaching baseball at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego.

“In a weird way, I think that played a part in making me want to play again,” he said of coaching. “While I enjoyed it, I also realized that I wasn’t done being on the other side of this. Part of me couldn’t fully commit to the coaching side because I still kind of missed the playing side.”

Hot DeCarlo

Prior to the season, Ducks manager Wally Backman pointed to the catcher position as one where uncertainty existed. After losing stalwart Hector Sanchez, a former World Series champion with the Giants, experience behind the plate just wasn’t there.

But, through the first week of the season, Joe DeCarlo has provided clarity. The former Mariners farmhand was tied for the league lead in hitting (.476) Friday night and had five RBIs and 11 runs in seven games (21 at-bats).

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