Long Island Ducks manager Wally Backman talks to Daniel Murphy...

Long Island Ducks manager Wally Backman talks to Daniel Murphy during batting practice on the Ducks media day, Saturday, April 22, 2023 at Farfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip. Credit: George A Faella

After missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2014, the Ducks decided they needed to fundamentally change the way the roster looked and bring in as many former major-leaguers as possible.

In past years, Ducks manager Wally Backman, with his vast array of friendships throughout the sport, was able to “out-connection’’ the rest of the Atlantic League. In 2019, Backman’s first on Long Island, it resulted in a dominant regular season and the franchise’s fourth championship. In the next two years of play (the league canceled 2020 because of COVID-19), the Ducks fell short of a title — last year, woefully so.

“Talent is the one thing that you have to have, but we want players that care about winning, that like playing baseball, want to be here and, ultimately, want to be champions,” Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff said Saturday at the Ducks’ annual media day at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip. “When we’ve had major league players that come here and talk about renewing their love for the game, it’s because this is not developmental baseball. We’re here to win.”

Backman believes that with a spring training roster that includes 11 former major-leaguers, the championship vibes of 2019 have returned.

“Last year was a disappointment to us for a few reasons,” he said. “But that’s not going to happen again and it definitely won’t happen this year.”

The Ducks will open the regular season Friday night in High Point, North Carolina. The home opener is scheduled for May 2.

The Ducks’ infield is filled with three former Mets and a former Red Sox player. Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada, both members of the 2015 Mets team that won the National League pennant, will reunite on the infield. Murphy likely will play first base most games, with the occasional start at second, Backman said. Tejada will play shortstop.

“I’m very excited to get my arms around Ruben Tejada,” said Murphy, who speaks glowingly of his longtime teammate, whom he hasn’t seen since 2015.

Adeiny Hechavarria, who made his name with the Marlins from 2013-17 and played 60 games with the Mets in 2019, will play third base. Tzu-Wei Lin, who played parts of four seasons with the Red Sox from 2017-20, is slated to play second.

“I tried to pick the best team and everyone said the Ducks were the best team in the league,” Hechavarria said through an interpreter. “I’m really excited to be here.”

Hechavarria also played 18 games with the Yankees in 2018.

Tejada and Lin are not currently with the Ducks because they are awaiting visa approval, but the Ducks anticipate those to go through “as quickly as possible,’’ Pfaff said.

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