Jesse Berardi is just like you.
Most mornings he wakes up in his Commack home, stuffs his lunch in a brown paper bag, and heads to work. It’s about a 20-minute commute and, when he gets there, he takes that brown bag and puts it in the fridge.
Then he gets ready to play baseball.
Such is life these days for Berardi, a Commack native playing for the Ducks. He’s constantly looking for that ticket back to a big-league organization, but happy he gets to continue chasing that dream in his backyard.
"It’s been amazing," said Berardi, a 25-year old utility infielder. "My girlfriend and my family come to pretty much every home game. Some guys say they don’t want to be home and they want to just do their own thing, but for me it’s been perfect."
The numbers bear that out. Entering this weekend’s series against the York Revolution in Pennsylvania, Berardi was hitting .299 with 16 RBIs and four home runs in 31 games. He had walked 11 times and struck out 13.
"He came to this team as, basically, our utility player," Ducks manager Wally Backman said Thursday. "But what Jesse has done since we brought him to this team is earned himself more playing time. The only reason that Jesse’s not playing right now is because of [Ian] Kinsler and [Danny] Valencia."
Kinsler and Valencia, both former Major Leaguers, spent a week with the Ducks to prepare to play for Israel in the Olympics. They left the team after the game on Thursday and, even though they did take at-bats away from Berardi, he didn’t seem to mind that much.
"They’re super cool and super receptive to any questions," said Berardi, who grew up watching both.
Berardi, who won the Yastrzemski Award as Suffolk’s top high school baseball player in 2014 and then went to St. John’s, played in the Cleveland organization from 2017-2019, primarily at the Class A level. After the pandemic cut spring training short in 2020, he returned to Commack where he tried his best to stay in shape during a summer without baseball.
"I mean, it was tough, especially at first," he said. "The playgrounds were yellow caution taped off. It was tough to do anything. So, I would just go to local parks when I could. Then, once gyms started opening up, get in there and train. I’d hit on the field when I could. I got kicked off a few times. It was crazy stuff, crazy times, but [you had to] to make a way."
Berardi said he worked specifically on his conditioning after a few hamstring injuries caused him to miss time in the Cleveland organization.
"I feel faster, I feel stronger, and hopefully I get a few more stolen bases, maybe hit a few more home runs," Berardi said.
Berardi said his hamstrings feel "really good" through the first month and a half of the season. The problems in the Cleveland organization, he thinks, were a product of his body getting used to the grind of daily minor-league life.
"[In] college, you play three days a week and then you go to professional baseball and you play six or seven," Berardi said. "It’s just wear and tear, and I wasn’t ready for it, I guess. But, now I am."
Berardi is ready for it all, lunch in hand.
"Literally, it’s in the fridge," he said. "It’s been perfect for me."