The Ducks have a best-selling closer. No, former major-leaguer Todd Coffey isn’t the next James Patterson, and he didn’t write a juicy tell-all a la Jose Canseco or David Wells, but he is the closest thing to a literary figure that’s come out of Bethpage Ballpark in a long time.
Coffey, an eight-year major-league veteran, was prominently featured in the recent New York Times bestseller “The Arm’’ by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan. The book explores the well-documented, and often highly populated, world of Tommy John surgery in pitchers.
Coffey, 35, who is in his first season with the Ducks, was one of the pitchers Passan chronicled on his road back from the surgery.
“[Passan] approached me and said he was writing the book,” said Coffey, whose name first appears on the second of the book’s 357 pages. “I was hoping the book would help people understand pitcher overuse and how to fix the arm problems. Tommy Johns are huge problems in this game.”
Coffey would know. He’s had the procedure twice, first in 2000 as a minor-leaguer with the Reds and again in 2012 while with the Dodgers. The first chapter of Passan’s book describes the 2012 surgery.
“He was in the surgery room with me,” said Coffey, who had a 4.10 ERA in eight big league seasons. “All the way to the end.”
As a veteran of both major-league success and major arm trouble, Coffey is more than qualified to comment on the growing need for pitchers, at one point or another, to go under the knife. He believes that overuse, especially at a young age, is a major factor for those who find themselves experiencing arm woes.
“The biggest problem is that kids don’t get rest,” he said. “It’s year-round baseball for kids. It’s not good. I think you’ve got to tailor how much you throw as a pitcher.
“These kids go out there and play travel ball every weekend,” he continued. “They’ll throw two games, and that’s way too much . . . These kids are playing 10 months a year. We’re professional athletes and we only play seven months a year. We take the rest off. There has to be something said for that. If we’re taking that kind of time off, then these kids should definitely be taking the time off.”
Coffey’s recent bit of “time off’’ hasn’t been to his liking. The reliever, who played for the Reds, Brewers, Nationals and Dodgers, hasn’t been back to the majors since his second surgery. He said he was on track to return to the big leagues last season but injured his right knee while in spring training with the Braves and missed the entire season.
This year, Coffey has been solid for the Ducks. His 21 saves were fourth in the Atlantic League entering play Saturday.
“He’s been huge,” Ducks manager Kevin Baez said. “He brings veteran leadership as a guy who’s done it in the big leagues. He’s a good teammate and a good pitcher. That combination is always a plus.”
Although proud of the way Passan’s book came out, Coffey isn’t exactly giving out copies of the bestseller. When asked if he had read the book — which is, at least in part, about his closer — Baez said he had heard about it but was unaware that Coffey was featured.
“I’ve got to read it,” he said with a smile. “I’ll be sure to look into that on our next flight to Sugar Land.”
The Ducks close out their homestand Sunday against Lancaster before hitting the road for four games with the expansion New Britain Bees and three with the Sugar Land Skeeters.