Lew Ford has returned to the nest.
The 40-year-old former major-leaguer is back with the Ducks, signing with the team on May 28 after recuperating from an injured left hamstring.
This will be the eighth Ducks season for Ford, who played for the Twins and Orioles for six seasons. The 2014 Atlantic League Player of the Year returned to the Ducks with a team-record .338 batting average.
Ford said the hamstring, the same one that bothered him for a large part of last season, flared up again while he played winter ball in Mexico. Although Ford played through the injury during the winter ball playoffs, he wanted to make sure it was completely healed before returning to the Atlantic League.
“I wasn’t sure how long it was going to be,” Ford, who hit .305 with five home runs in 60 games last season, said last Sunday. “I wasn’t completely ready to go [at the beginning of the season]. I finally decided about a week ago that I was good to go and things just worked out here that I could come in and play. I’m happy to get the chance.”
As always, the Ducks were more than happy to give him one.
“We’ve been communicating for a while,” manager Kevin Baez said. “The timing was right for him and for us. It worked out, and we’re glad to have him back.”
Retirement, Ford said, was never on the table. Rest was all he needed.
“I wanted to come back,” he said. “ . . . I wasn’t ready to retire. I still want to play at least one more year . . . I feel good. It’s a matter of going out and playing. I feel confident now. We just have to see how it plays out.”
Ford, however, was a bit disappointed that he did not get to play with Eric Gagne or Nolan Reimold. Both former major- leaguers played with the Ducks earlier this season but retired before Ford returned.
“I would have loved to have played with those guys,” Ford said. “I have a lot of respect for both of them and what they accomplished. They were great clubhouse influences.”
Ford’s teammates missed him, too.
“Lew’s been a great teammate and a good teacher of the game ever since I’ve been here,” shortstop Dan Lyons said. “It’s always good to have someone like him in the clubhouse.”
Ford returns as not only a potential force in the lineup but another strategic mind in the dugout. He also will serve as bench coach, a role he held in each of the previous two seasons.
“He’s a boost of energy,” Baez said. “You see Lew Ford and you think of good times.”
Puckett to miss rest of season
Ducks third baseman Cody Puckett had successful surgery to repair a ruptured patella tendon in his right knee Monday. Puckett injured the knee in the eighth inning of the Ducks’ 5-4 win over Lancaster on May 28 after being tagged out along the first-base line on a sacrifice bunt. He is expected to be ready to play next season, the Ducks said.
Puckett, who is in his fourth year with the Ducks, hit .223 with three home runs, 12 RBIs, 15 walks and 20 strikeouts in 33 games (112 at-bats) this season.
On deck: Ducks at Bridgeport, 1:12 p.m. Sunday
A LEAGUE OF HIS OWN
Lew Ford has played for 20 different professional teams. His stops:
Major League Baseball
Baltimore Orioles: 2012
Minnesota Twins: 2003, 04, 05, 06, 07
Organized Baseball (Minors)
Augusta Greenjackets: 2000
Bowie Baysox: 2013
Edmonton Trappers: 2002
Fort Myers Miracle: 2001
Louisville River Bats: 2009
Lowell Spinners: 1999
New Britain Rock Cats: 2001, 02
Norfolk Tides: 2012, 13
Rochester Red Wings: 2003, 04, 06,07
Ducks: 2011, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Hanshin Tigers: 2008
Guerreros de Oaxaca: 2010
Toros de Tijuana: 2015
Leones del Escogido, 2016
Toros del Este: 2014
Caneros de Los Mochis: 2016
Caribes de Anzoategui: 2009
Navegantes del Magallanes: 2013, 15