The Long Island Ducks signed former Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez.

The Long Island Ducks signed former Mets reliever Duaner Sanchez. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan, 2008

Duaner Sanchez pitched for the Mets, sometimes brilliantly, for parts of two seasons. The former standout reliever, however, is best known for the taxicab accident that ended his 2006 season and kept him out for all of 2007.

Out of the big leagues since a 2009 stint with the Padres, he signed on earlier this month with the Ducks, who open their Atlantic League season Friday night in Bridgeport.

As for the accident, he is aware that it will forever be a major part of his New York legacy . . . and a question he always will be asked.

"Here it comes," Sanchez said with a smile at Thursday's media day.

During the 2006 season, Sanchez emerged as the primary setup man to closer Billy Wagner, going 5-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 49 games.

Shortly after checking into a hotel in Miami for a series with the Marlins, Sanchez was riding in a cab that was blindsided by a drunken driver.

He separated his shoulder and underwent season-ending surgery. Less than 24 hours later, the Mets acquired reliever Roberto Hernandez (and Oliver Perez) in a trade deadline deal from the Pirates for outfielder Xavier Nady.

Without Sanchez, the Mets lost a seven-game NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals.

"It didn't end up how I or any Mets fan wanted it to," Sanchez said of the '06 season. "There is nothing you can do about it when something like that happens. It was an accident."

Controversy arose when it was reported that the accident occurred well after midnight.

"Everybody says it was [after midnight], but it was 7:30 at night," Sanchez said. "They put it in the papers that it was 2:30 in the morning."

Almost five years later, the once-upon-a-time fireballer who has yet to recapture his '06 form will showcase his right arm in the hopes of attracting attention from a major-league organization.

As for the Ducks, they were convinced by his solid 2010 season, split between the Sussex Skyhawks of the Can-Am League and Diablos Rojos del México of the Mexican League (combined record 4-4, 3.69 ERA).

"We were looking for some help at the back end of the bullpen," Ducks general manager Michael Pfaff said. "He had a combined 20 saves between Mexico and the Pan-Am league. All the reports we got on him were good. He seemed to be the type of player that we wanted to have on the team."

Sanchez is appreciative of the opportunity, knowing that success on Long Island could lead to a major-league encore. While he talked fondly of a potential return to the Mets, any big-league opportunity would suffice. And time, he says, is on his side.

"Look at the major-league players who are 35, 36, 37 years old," Sanchez said. "I'm 31. Do I have time? Yes, I have time. Do I want to be in the big leagues? Yes."

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