John Lannan has come full circle.
In the early years of what is now Bethpage Ballpark, the lefthander took the field wearing a Chaminade cap, playing for his high school in a CHSAA playoff game. Now, nearly 15 years later, Lannan’s spikes tear up that same dirt, this time as a Ducks reliever.
In the years between those trips to the Central Islip minor league oasis, Lannan broke the bats of the best of the best. The 32-year-old Long Beach native, who now lives in Tampa and signed with the Ducks last Monday, pitched for parts of eight seasons in the major leagues, most notably with the Nationals from 2007-12. He played with the Phillies in 2013 and appeared in five games with the Mets in 2014, his last trip to The Show.
“He’s experienced, throws the ball well and is another lefty,” said Ducks manager Kevin Baez, who hopes Lannan can bolster the team’s bullpen.
In Lannan’s first three appearances with the Ducks, he was 1-0 and allowed one hit, struck out three and walked two in 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings.
Although Lannan said he is perfectly comfortable coming out of the bullpen, he spent the bulk of his major-league tenure as a starter. Of his 153 career appearances, 148 of them were starts. His best year, statistically speaking, was in 2011 with the Nationals when he went 10-13 with a 3.70 ERA in 33 starts. Lannan, who has a career big-league record of 46-58 with a 4.18 ERA, did not have a winning record in any season in which he made more than six starts.
Lannan sat through some grim baseball in Washington, not really getting to taste any of the regular-season success that has permeated the nation’s capital in recent years. In his last full season in Washington, 2011, the Nationals won 80 games. The season before that, they won only 69.
“We had some tough years as a team,” Lannan said. “But I feel like I did my best in the situation we were in. It was a big learning experience, sort of learning as you go. I felt like I learned a lot during those early years.”
Despite the losing, Lannan saw the signs of future positive returns for Washington. He made six starts in 2012, the year the Nationals won the National League East title and Bryce Harper made his much-anticipated debut.
“Bryce is one of those players that, once those lights go on, he’s ready to go,” Lannan said. “He’s a fierce competitor, shows up when he needs to, and he’s a good guy.”
Departing right before major team success soon took on a thematic quality for Lannan. His short tenure with the Mets came one year before they won the NL pennant.
“It was a transition year for them,” Lannan said. “You could see they had potential. Terry [Collins] was doing a great job with that team. You could see they had the pieces and it was just a matter of it coming together. And it did, the year after.”
Lannan had high praise for Collins.
“Most managers I played for were really great,” Lannan said. “But in Terry’s case, he really does care about the players and their well-being. It seems like he really wants them to handle everything the right way and make sure every player is all right, which is a great quality to have as a manager.”
Aardsma set to return from DL
Ducks closer David Aardsma said he hopes to return from the disabled list early this week. Aardsma, who has been bothered by a pectoral injury, hasn’t pitched since May 28.
“It really didn’t affect me while pitching,” he said. “It was more after, and it was more of the concern that, because of [the injury], I would start pitching differently and maybe hurt something real.”
Aardsma, who has five saves and a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings in 12 appearances, is anxious to get back on the mound.
“I’m going crazy,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m losing it . . . But you understand the process.”
On Deck: Ducks at Sugar Land, 7:05 p.m. Sunday.
HOME & ROAD
AND HOME AGAIN
The travels of Long Beach’s John Lannan since his last game with the Washington Nationals in 2012:
2013: Phillies (1 game), Reading & Clearwater (Phillies system)
2014: Mets (5 games), St. Lucie & Las Vegas (Mets system)
2015: Albuquerque (Rockies AAA)
2016: Omaha (Royals AAA)
Lannan also played 2014-17 for Licey in the Dominican Winter League
His MLB record: 46-58, 4.18 ERA