Jesse Russo throws the ball back to the infield, during...

Jesse Russo throws the ball back to the infield, during the open player tryouts for the Long Island Ducks baseball team, Saturday, April 9, 2022 at Central Islip. Credit: George A Faella

Malcolm Smith will travel cross country to get a chance to play professional baseball.

In less than a day, the 25-year-old outfielder took flights from Los Angeles to St. Louis to Baltimore to Islip — and then jumped in an Uber early Saturday morning to go to Fairfield Properties Ballpark, home of the Ducks.

The traveling man made the trek for an open tryout with the Ducks. Smith last played professionally in the Pecos League last season, and he was looking to earn a roster spot for 2022.

Less than two weeks from now, the Ducks will begin their 22nd season in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. Smith, who is from California, was joined by more than 40 players, all auditioning on a sunny but brisk spring morning before Ducks manager Wally Backman, pitching coach Rick Tomlin, hitting coach Lew Ford and team president/GM Michael Pfaff.

“It was worth the trip to grab this opportunity,” Smith said. “I was impressed by the stadium and the field is beautiful. I got to meet the GM and the coaches and felt very comfortable out there. Hopefully I get the invite to spring training.”

The Ducks, filling out their roster in advance of their 2022 home opener on April 22 at 6:35 p.m. against the York Revolution, are looking to extend their league record to six consecutive seasons reaching the Atlantic League Championship Series.

“We’ve had good teams here each season that I’ve been a part of it,” Backman said. “And today we saw some good-looking athletic ability out on the field and will be reaching out to those we feel can possibly make the team in the next few days.”

For Smith, who displayed a strong throwing arm and quick bat, that would be the goal.

“I felt I did my best and the experience was a great one,’’ he said. “I’m hoping to get signed and continue my professional playing career. I’m eager to be on anybody’s team and I’m ready to work no matter what.”

Outfielder Luis Montano, a 21-year-old prospect recently released from High-A ball with the St. Louis Cardinals, also was a solid candidate. His two-hour trip to Central Islip from his hometown of Paterson, New Jersey, was much shorter than Smith’s but may have yielded the same results. Montano sprayed the outfield with line drives and appeared to be one of the more accomplished hitters in the tryout.

Two local players, 23-year-old outfielder Matt Catalfo of Manhasset and 25-year-old infielder Jesse Russo of Westbury, also had impressive workouts.

After being unable to take the field because of COVID-19 restrictions in 2020, the Ducks led all MLB Partner Leagues in attendance in 2021 and are looking forward to welcoming fans back for a full 132-game season in 2022. Backman is fired up for another shot at the Atlantic League championship. Last season the Ducks lost to Lexington in the title series.

“We have another exciting season of promotions, fireworks and entertainment planned,” Pfaff said. “Our goal is to remain the cleanest, safest, most fan-friendly and affordable way for Long Islanders to spend their discretionary income. That has not changed.’’

Fan favorite Ford is back for his 12th season. Frankie Moscatiello of Rocky Point, a hard-throwing righthanded pitcher who joined the Ducks for the 2021 playoff run, also returns.

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