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Lew Ford, Ducks' hitting coach, is leading by example

Lew Ford (22) hits an infield single during

Lew Ford (22) hits an infield single during Game 2 of the Liberty Division Championship Series against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. (Sept. 18, 2013) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Lew Ford is so hot that teammate Shaun Garceau has taken to calling him 'red.' Entering last night's game with the Sugar Land Skeeters Ford was hitting .380 with four home runs and 22 RBIs in his first 100 at-bats of the season. He is second in batting in the Atlantic League, behind Lancaster's Blake Gailen, who is hitting .412.

During last weekend's series with Camden, Ford hit both a triple and a grand slam. The 37-year old spent parts of six seasons in the major leagues, including five with the Minnesota Twins. During his time at baseball's highest level, he hit .268 with 35 home runs and 176 RBIs.

Ford, who doubles as hitting coach, is in his fifth season with the Ducks.

You've been on fire lately. What's been the biggest reason for the early season success?

I think it's just getting my swing back and getting a feel for it. I'm trying to stay on pitches the other way. Mostly, I'm just going out every day and trying to have good at bats. Things have been working out well so far.

Has doubling as hitting coach helped, just in terms of watching each individual at bat during the game?

It hasn't hurt. I am trying to watch the pitchers so I can relay the information to the other guys on what they might have. Working with the other guys on their swing can help you. If you're playing, you're doing the same things.

You had a triple last weekend. Did you think you could get three bases off the bat?

I was hoping it would be four (bases), a home run. I was running well out of the box. The ball hit off the wall. I saw it hit and he didn't catch it off the wall, so I just kept going. It makes it an easy triple at that point.

A triple and a grand slam in the same weekend. Is that when you know you're hot?

Yeah, I was feeling good. I was able to swing how I wanted to. Sometimes, you go up there, you're trying to hit the ball, you're thinking one thing and something else happens. But things were working together really well.

Do you have any memories from your major league career that stick out?

I'll always remember facing Mariano Rivera. In my opinion, he was the best pitcher I've faced. The first time I faced him was in the (2003) playoffs, my rookie year. He's a great pitcher. I faced him multiple times and didn't have any success.

Ford went 0-for-5 against Rivera, according to baseball-reference.com

What was it like facing Rivera's famous cutter?

When I came up, I knew he threw a cutter. I think I pinch hit off him for my first at-bat. The hitting coach said 'hey, he throws a cutter.' That was the scouting report. I went up there thinking 'ok, I've seen a cutter before.' But this wasn't a normal cutter. It's like a slider at 94 mph. It's hard and it's a straight four-seam. You don't pick up any spin. It's really tough. It's got late movement and he's got control of it.

New York Sports