Fehlandt Lentini calls his career "the Independent League World Tour." And for good reason. The outfielder has spent 13 seasons, including the last ten, in five different Independent leagues. His latest stop? The Atlantic League and Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip. The 36-year-old minor league lifer, who was signed by the Ducks in February, brings with him an impressive baseball resume. Last season, while playing with Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association, Lentini swiped the 332nd base of his Independent career, breaking the all-time Independent baseball stolen base record, previously held by Billy Hall. Lentini finished the year with 338. Lentini had four hits, three RBI, and one stolen base in 23 at-bats through the first six games of the season.
You've been playing independent baseball for a long time. What about Long Island was attractive to you?
I have an aunt that lives in Huntington. I wanted to come and get to spend the summer at her house. It's awesome. I'll probably get to spend more time [with family] than I have in my whole life in one summer. It was a no-brainer to try and make it happen.
How was the adjustment to the clubhouse?
I felt comfortable on the first day of camp. The guys were just awesome. I didn't feel like anyone felt too highly of themselves or was trying to be 'the guy.' Everyone just wants to win and work hard. That's the recipe for success.
What about the Atlantic League is different than other independent leagues you've played in?
There's more older guys, which is nice. You don't have to deal with young rookies who don't necessarily know their place and don't play the game right.
You've made your name stealing bases. Has that always been a major part of your game?
I've done it as long as I can remember. In Little League, I used to go half way and look for them to make a throw somewhere. I'm just trying to score. Anyway I can get to the next base and put my teammates in a position to get an RBI, it makes their job easier. I'm always looking for ways to move up a base, whether it's steal a base, read a ball in the dirt, or watch an outfielder go lazy to a ball. I've always been fast. So why not try and steal some bases?
Last season, were you aware of the stolen base record and that you were approaching it?
I only found out when our media guy told me that I had two more bags [left] and I was going to break the record. Before that, I had no idea I was even close. It was pretty cool. I was making a joke that I was going to pick up the base and hold it over my head like Rickey [Henderson], but that didn't happen. I just took my hat off to the fans that gave me a standing ovation. It was awkward because I stole third base standing up. I didn't get to slide in a pick the base up. It didn't feel right bending over and picking it up, so I just left it there.