Steve McQuail may have seen more truck stops than baseball fields this season. When the 26-year-old Wantagh native signed with the Ducks on July 11, it marked his fourth stop on a whirlwind half-season tour of the minor leagues.
McQuail, a 2007 MacArthur High School graduate, began the season in the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization, playing for Class A Kane County (west of Chicago), Visalia (California) and the Schaumburg Boomers (Chicago area) of the independent Frontier League before coming home.
McQuail, who was more than happy to return to his roots, re- warded the Ducks with five home runs in his first five games. Since then, he has cooled off, hitting .188 with seven RBIs and 18 strikeouts in 14 games entering Saturday night's game against the Bridgeport Bluefish.
McQuail is one of three L.I. natives on the Ducks' active roster. Outfielder Bryan Sabatella is from Shoreham and pitcher Bruce Kern resides in Yaphank.
The Ducks dropped 13 of their first 21 in the second half and entered Saturday night six games behind Bridgeport in the Liberty Division. They held a 10-game lead in the wild card, which will take effect if either Somerset or Southern Maryland wins the second-half championship in their divisions.
This is your fourth team this season. Is it hard to keep focused?
It can be. But at this point in my career, I'm used to it. If I have to move around a lot, it really doesn't surprise me or rattle me as much as it might if I was younger. It's always hard. You want to be in one place for a while and hold a routine every day. That makes you feel a lot more comfortable. But where I'm at, I'm really happy.
What are some of your better memories of playing high school baseball on L.I.?
High school ball taught me to grind. It taught me that when your back is against the wall, you have to work hard. That's what I did my entire high school career, whether it was showing up to school early to run, hit the weight room or get some extra swings in. It taught me hard work. Without that, I never would have made it to minor-league ball. Throughout high school and college, I al- ways prided myself being the hardest worker in the group and being the first to show up and the last to leave. The work ethic I learned in high school allowed me to play at the next level.
The team has struggled in the second half. How do you turn it around?
There's not much we can do except keep playing. When I say 'keep playing,' I mean try our hardest, not press and have a good time. We know we're going through a hard patch. It happens to all the teams. The easiest thing we can control is show up to the park every day, have fun and let the game handle itself.
What do you have to do to get out of your own slump?
After the hot start, I was trying to do a little too much and put a little more pressure on myself. I have to get back to having fun and letting the game handle itself.
Next up: Today, Bridgeport at Ducks, 5:05 p.m.