For veteran Long Island Ducks first baseman Ray Navarrete, the return of Lew Ford to the organization was like receiving an "early Christmas present."
"To find out that we're getting Lou back is a big shot in the arm. A lot of guys are super excited he's back," said Navarrete, who will retire at season's end. "He's a very familiar face, a great clubhouse guy and a major league talent."
Ford went 2-for-4 with a sacrifice fly and two runs in his debut last night, but it wasn't a great overall game for the Ducks (26-27), who blew a four-run lead in an 8-6 loss to the Lancaster Barnstormers.
Bill Hall had a two-run homer and Bryant Nelson went 3-for-4 with two RBIs for the Ducks.
Travis Denker went 2-for-4 with a run and Jerry Owens had three hits, two RBIs and two runs for Lancaster (29-25), which overcame a 6-2 deficit with runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings.
"It was nice to start off on a good note and it was great to get out there again," Ford said. "I just wish we could have ended up with a victory."
It will be the fourth stint on Long Island for Ford, who was released Monday by Baltimore after playing 33 games in their minor league system. The Texas native was signed by the Ducks Tuesday.
"Once I came here and played the first time there wasn't another team I wanted to play for in this league," Ford said. "I enjoyed it, I made some friends here on the Island and I liked the area. So this was my choice."
The Ducks have a four game lead over second-place Bridgeport (22-31) in the Atlantic League Liberty Division with 17 to play.
"The Ducks being in the playoff race . . . That's the reason why I wanted to start playing again so quickly," Ford said. "I wanted to be apart of this playoff run and help them out any way I can."
In 184 games with the Ducks in 2009, 2011 and 2012, Ford, 37, hit .326 with 24 home runs and 114 RBIs. He played 19 games for Long Island last year before being signed by the Orioles and missed the Ducks run to the Atlantic League championship in 2012.
"I think I'm going to keep going until the body gives out. I feel like mentally I'm still on top of everything," Ford said. "I feel great right now physically. The body kind of tells you when you're done.