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James Lomangino takes long way home with Ducks

Connetquot's James Lomangino (17), pitches during an All-Star

Connetquot's James Lomangino (17), pitches during an All-Star game at Farmingdale State College on June 12, 2009.

Not long ago, James Lomangino was sitting in Central Islip watching the Ducks and dreaming of playing professional baseball. Now, that dream is fulfilled, and he didn’t even have to leave home.

Lomangino, who attended elementary school in Central Islip before moving to Ronkonkoma and graduating from Connetquot High School, now watches the Ducks from his perch in the rightfield bullpen.

After being released by the Colorado Rockies this spring, Lomangino texted former Ducks player Bruce Kern, who is now playing in China, about playing for the Ducks. Only days later he was ready to sign a contract with the team he grew up watching.

“I’ve been coming to the games for 10 years or so,” Lomangino said. “ . . . I always thought that I wanted to be a Duck, so it’s good to finally get a chance.”

Lomangino, 24, has been used sparingly in relief, pitching to a 3.17 ERA in 25 appearances (28 1⁄3 innings), entering Saturday night’s game against York. Despite having a rather undefined role, Ducks manager Kevin Baez has been impressed with what he’s seen from Lomangino.

“He’s been solid,” Baez said. “Him and (closer, Todd) Coffey have the toughest jobs — closer and a guy who doesn’t pitch all the time. (Lomangino) will go five, six, seven, or eight days without pitching. He’s making sure he’s throwing his bullpens, getting his work in, and throwing his side sessions. He’s throwing out there and being a good teammate. His response is ‘Whenever you need me to pitch, I’ll be ready.’ That’s what you want as a manager.”

Ducks on the mend

The Ducks’ training room door continues to revolve.

First, the good: outfielder and DH Lew Ford returned this week following his second stint on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Ford, who missed 47 games this time around, returned Wednesday and went 2-for-3 with a double and a run in a 6-4 loss to Southern Maryland. Ford was hitting .323 in 43 games, entering Saturday night’s game against York. He missed 73 of the season’s first 116 games.

Now, the bad: Pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Dustin Richardson, who have both been inactive since Aug. 10, still aren’t ready to return.

“They’re ways away,” Baez said. “I can’t see them coming back anytime soon.”

But, whenever Richardson (lat strain) does return, Baez doesn’t expect him back in the starting rotation. “Richardson was one of those guys that wanted to start and we were looking for a starter,’ Baez said of the former Boston Red Sox hurler. “He was doing OK, but couldn’t handle the workload. For him in the future, he just needs to be a reliever.”

Mitchell (oblique strain), who was acquired in an Aug. 1 trade with Bridgeport, made two starts with the Ducks, going 1-0 with a 7.87 ERA.

On deck

The Ducks conclude their home stand Sunday night against York, then open an eight-game road trip Monday in Lancaster.


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