Monday, March 16, 2015

Ray Navarrete Interview

One name was been synonymous with the Long Island Ducks over the last 6 years...Ray Navarrete. His big smile, grit and flair have made him a fan favorite not only on Long Island but around the league.

Navarrete, a native of New Jersey was signed as unrestricted free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2000 after completing a stellar career at Seton Hall University. He played five years in the Pirates organization before being traded to the Houston Astros organization.

In 2006, Navarrete signed with the Mets organization and was assigned to Triple A-Norfolk.

In July of 2006, he signed with the Ducks and has been a main stay for the Ducks ever since.

Navarrete became the Ducks All-Time Hits leader in 2011, and was named Atlantic League MVP in 2009.

Not only has Navarrete become a fan favorite on the field but he's a successful entrepreneur off of it with DIGMI.

Here's my Q & A with Ray:

CM: Favorite Baseball player?
RN: My Favorite Baseball Player growing up as a kid was hands down Darryl Strawberry. He was such an exciting and talented to player and he was the reason why I wanted to play professional baseball. I remember going to Shea Stadium and hearing the whole stadium chant D-A-A-A-A-A-R-R-R-R-Y-Y-Y-L-L-L-L. It was so cool. By the time I was finishing High school Darryl Strawberry was playing for the Yankees and they had this rookie shortstop named Derek Jeter. In 1996, Jeter hit a home run on opening day, and I have been a huge fan ever since. I actually got a chance to play against Derek Jeter and the NY Yankees in Major League Spring Training in 2003 when I was with the Pittsburgh Pirates. I got to hit against Mariano Rivera and played on the same field with guys like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Alfonso Soriano. Pretty Cool moment.

CM: Favorite Athlete?

RN: My favorite Athlete of All-Time has to be Michael Jordan. To me he is the greatest example of a competitor and a champion. Still to this day, he is the most recognizable athlete in history. Cmon, 6 Rings, A gold medal with the Dream Team, and the most popular sneaker of all time. He truly is the greatest Athlete of all time.

CM: Favorite Baseball moment?

RN: I've had a few. Of course having the opportunity to play against the New York Yankees and hit against Mariano Rivera in MLB spring Training in 2003 while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. another would be when I hit 3 home runs for the Long Island Ducks against the Newark Bears in 2008. Also, being named 2009 Atlantic League MVP was a great moment for my family and I.

CM: When you came to the Ducks, what were you first thoughts?

RN: When I first came to the LI Ducks, I was just released by the NY Mets, and was extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue my career at a professional level. I fell in love with this place right away. Beautiful stadium, great fans. Just a great place to continue to chase the dream.

CM: Six year later, how do you feel about the Ducks?

RN: Ha-ha, I,ve been here a long time. It's not a secret that I care about this organization a great deal. It has become a very special place for both myself and my family. All I ever wanted in my career is to be given a fair shot, an opportunity to play everyday and show what I can do. The Ducks have given me that opportunity, and I am forever grateful to them for that. They have allowed me to develop as a player and a person, and most importantly, they have stood by me and supported me at my best and at my worst. This is where I am going to end my career, although not for a few more years hopefully. I still have a great deal to accomplish before I am done including winning a championship.

CM: You made it to AAA, but never the majors. What are you feelings towards that?

RN: I used to think that I would judge myself on the fact that I came up a bit short of my dream to get to the Big Leagues, but that is not the case anymore. I now realize that the journey is more important, and I think my journey is quite impressive. Not many people can say that they got to AAA, played in Major League Spring Training, played against the NY Yankees and hit against Mariano Rivera. Not to mention my accomplishments in the Atlantic League. How many people can say that they have won an MVP at a professional level? And you know what? I believe I have proven that on my best day playing for the LI Ducks, I could have played a day in the Major Leagues. There are so many of us in the Atlantic League that are talented enough and deserve a shot to play in the show, unfortunately sometimes it is just not in the cards. The Atlantic League is my Major Leagues, and I am extremely proud to play with and against the best players in our league.

CM: You get a chance to play catch with one person dead or alive who is it?

RN: Abraham Lincoln. He is the one person I would love to have a catch with and pick his brain about a lot of things. He is my favorite President, and the main reason why I wear #16. I read a lot about him, and know what an exceptional leader he was. Not to mention how persistent and determined he was in all of his endeavors. He persevered and never gave up. I think #16 having a catch with the 16th president would be an amazing experience.

CM: Where do you want DIGMI to go?

RN: I want DIGMI to become a household name. I want DIGMI to be one of our cultures most recognizable logos. I believe that we have created a very special brand and logo, and that the sky is truly the limit. There is a reason why people love our logo and designs. I think we resonate with who people are. We are a brand that encourages people to be who they are and chase their dreams. DIGMI is about believing in yourself. I have no doubt that DIGMI can and will be one of our cultures most popular brands.

CM: If a fan asks you to sign 10 autographs what are your thoughts?

RN: Still to this day, I am still flattered when someone asks for an autograph. I had a manager tell me once, "Sign every autograph you can, because there will come a day when no one will want your autograph." I really don't mind if they ask for 10, unless its during a Sunday autograph session and their is a line or before a game when I am getting ready to play. Other than that, its cool.

CM: Being a guy from Jersey, do you watch Jersey Shore?

RN: I am originally from the down the Shore in Monmouth County NJ. I know what its like to live there and socialize there. No, I don't watch that show. I know the characters and I am aware how popular the show is, but to be honest, I tell people all the time The Jersey Shore is not a fair representation of what shore life is like in Jersey. More than half the people on that show aren't from Jersey.

CM: Do you think social networking has helped with the popularity of the Ducks and the Atlantic League?

RN: I would like to think so. Social Media only helps businesses or teams get more exposure. I am in favor of any form of networking for the LI Ducks and Atlantic League because I think it's a great league that is very underrated. I believe many people are not aware of the caliber of talent in the league and are not aware of how affordable and fan friendly the stadiums are. I believe the Atlantic is still the best kept secret in all of professional baseball.

CM: You'll be going to Sugarland, TX next season, thoughts?

RN: I think its amazing. Finally, the Ducks get to really fly in V Formation somewhere ha-ha. I cant wait to play down there, I hear the new stadium is amazing, and I know the ball flies in Texas. Maybe that may turn into my favorite new park to hit in, other than the Duck Pond of course.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Vlad On Inactive List, Ducks Acquire Fleishman And Sign Jones

Vladimir Guerrero has been placed on the "Inactive" list for the Long Island Ducks. According to Ducks General Manager Mike Pfaff, he's attending to personal matters in the Dominican Republic, and once he arrives on Long Island he will activate him.

The Ducks also acquired Matt Fleishman from the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League in exchange for a player to be named later, and signed pitcher Rusty Jones for the 2013 season.

Fleishman, a Commack, NY native will begin his second season with the Ducks. Last year he played 17 games for the Ducks after finishing his career at Villanova University. He hit .238 with 3 RBI, in 42 plate appearances. 

Rusty Jones joins the Ducks after playing his entire career in the independent leagues. He has a career 15-16 record with a 4.21 ERA in 280 innings pitched. Last season he had 4-1 record with a 2.44 ERA for the Edinburg Roadrunners of the North American League.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ducks Fan Fest Today!

The Ducks will host their first ever fan fest today at 10:30, at Bethpage Ballpark.

There will be games, food, and a chance to meet players and get autographs. After the fan fest the Ducks will play an exhibition game against the Bridgeport Bluefish at 1:05pm.

Go to the Ducks website for more information.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Atlantic League Rules To Speed Up Games

New Atlantic League Rules To Speed Up Games


by Tom Stryjewski, Contributing Blogger

Hey Duck fans, we all know how long and drawn out Atlantic League games are. Getting a game in under 3 hours is a rarity. Most of the time you would get home from a night game just in time for the 11 o'clock news to begin. This season the league will be taking measures to decrease the long length of its games. These measures include limiting visits to the mound by coaches and players, enforcing time limitations on: in between innings activities, the amount of time a pitcher takes to throw a pitch and the time a batter has to step in the box. They also want the umpires to enforce the "high strike" rule to further help speed the game along.

Umpiring in the Atlantic League has also been a sore subject for many years. There has never been any consistency between the different umpiring crews and even among the same crew. This season there has been a large turnover in the umpires in the league. A majority of the veteran umpires from past seasons will not be in the league. Crew chief Mark Facto is out and Atlantic League Executive Director Joe Klein will now supervise the umpires.

What will be interesting to see will be the inventive ways the teams will use to circumvent the new system. Will we see phantom injuries (like you see in professional soccer) occur in the field that will bring out the trainer to slow the game down or enable the manager not to be charged a time to the mound visit? Will the catcher opt to go talk to the third baseman instead of the pitcher to relay infield plays or assignments that the manager wants? When the catcher goes out in front of home plate to relay infield signs, how far will he be allowed to walk before the umpire decides it is counted as a trip to the mound? Will there be a 12 second clock on the scoreboard for the umpire and players to see? Will we have to rely on Tim and the rest of the Duck fans to count down the time when the opposing team is on the mound? Will the players be retying their shoes in the infield more often to slow down momentum of the other team?

There are bound to be a lot of bumps along the road with this new system but hopefully it will reach it's desired goal of bringing the game length to a respectable time, one that will keep all the fans in their seats until the end of the game.

Below are some articles by Jim Seip of the York Daily Record and John Walk of the York Dispatch detailing the plans of the league to speed up the game.

Atlantic League Hopes To Speed Up Games - By Jim Seip
Atlantic League Tries To Speed Up Games -By John Walk


Tom Stryjewski has been season ticket holder of the Ducks since 2000. He is a regular contributor to the Long Island Ducks group "LongIslandDucksQuackPack."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lew Ford Reassigned to Double-A Bowie

Photo via wikipedia
For those Duck fans wondering why Lew Ford isn't on the Baltimore Orioles roster, it's because he was reassigned to their Double-A affiliate Bowie. 

Last season after starting the season with the Ducks, Ford had his contract purchased by the Baltimore Orioles and eventually made it back to the majors. He finished the season with a .183 batting average, 3 home runs and 4 RBI in 25 gamesfor Baltimore.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ducks Add Henriquez And Suarez

The Long Island Ducks have signed catcher Ralph Henriquez and Gabe Suarez for the 2013 season.

Ralph Henriquez was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2nd round (72nd Overall) of the 2005 Major League Draft. He's spent time in the Houston Astros, New York Mets, and Seattle Mariners organizations, advancing to Triple-A twice in 2011 and 2012 with Seattle's Triple-A affiliate Tacoma. He has a minor league career .228 batting average with 22 home runs, and 193 RBI. He's also thrown out 26% of the runners who tried to steal against him during his career.

Gabe Suarez begins his fourth season with the Ducks, having previously played for them in 2007, 2008 and 2010.  Last season he split time between the Dodgers organization, and the Mexican League. He has a .237 batting average with 4 home runs and 96 RBI in his independent league career.

The Ducks have a loaded roster now, and with the signing of Ramon Castro today, Henriquez will be relegated to a back-up role. Suarez should see some playing time around the entire infield, as a back-up also.

Ducks Sign Former Mets Catcher, Ramon Castro

The Long Island Ducks announced today that they have signed former New York Mets catcher, Ramon Castro for the 2013 season. 


During his major league career, Ramon Castro played in 567 games for the Florida Marlins, New York Mets, and Chicago White Sox. He has a .237 batting average, with 67 home runs, and 217 RBI in big leagues.  He was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in the 1st round (17th overall) of the 1994 Major League Draft.

A lot of Ducks fans were asking when the Ducks were going to sign a catcher. Well they couldn't have made a bigger splash by signing Castro. He's a solid catcher who handles pitchers well, and hits for power.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ducks Sign Dontrelle Willis

Long Island Ducks General Manager Mike Pfaff announced via his twitter account that the Ducks have signed left-handed pitcher Dontrelle Willis for the 2013 season. 

Willis was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 8th round (223rd overall) of the 2000 Major League Baseball draft. He broke into the major leagues in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. That season he was electric, going 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA, leading the Marlins to a World Series title. He was eventually named the National League Rookie of the Year. In 2005, he had another stellar season with the Marlins, finishing the season with a 22-10 record and a 2.63 ERA, He was voted to his second Major League All-Star game and finished second to Randy Johnson in the Cy Young Award voting. Over the next few years Willis was a solid pitcher for the Marlins but nothing like his first three seasons. A string of injuries contributed to inconsistency, which saw him play for five different organizations (Detroit Tigers, San Fransisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, and Baltimore Orioles) since 2008.  Last season, he pitched in 4 games for the Orioles Triple-A affiliate Norfolk.

I've always liked Dontrelle Willis. He was always smiling and you could tell he really enjoyed playing the game, which is probably why he hasn't retired yet. Hopefully like many other for major league veterans, he can resurrect his career with the Ducks.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guerrero Signs With Ducks

According to Ken Rosenthal, Vladimir Guerrero has signed with the Long Island Ducks. This hasn't yet been announced by the Ducks, but normally the Ducks keep this under wraps until they can get a public relations game plan together to announce it.

Vladimir Guerrero was considered one of the best players in baseball from 1998 until a few years ago. He has a .318 batting average, with 449 home runs, 1496 RBI in his major league career. Guerrero was selected as a Major League All-Star nine times, and was named American League Most Valuable Player in 2004. He's considered by many as a future Hall of Famer.

I could list all the accolades that Guerrero has received through out his career but I won't. Guerrero was one of the best players in baseball for over a decade. During his prime he was a 5-tool player who could do it all. At this point in his career he will used as a DH, but doubt he's lost the power that helped him hit 449 home runs during his major league career. Not only will this help the Ducks on the field, but it will generate ticket sales off of it. 

Update: At 8pm, Long Island Ducks General Manager Mike Pfaff confirmed on his twitter account that the Ducks have signed Vladimir Guerrero! 

Paul DeGrocco Not Returning As On-Field Host

Long time On-Field Host, Paul DeGrocco will not be returning for the 2013 season. DeGrocco joined the Ducks in the 2003 season, and has been the voice of the Ducks for many fans over his 10 years.



Paul has been the biggest ambassador of the Ducks over the years. He's represented them with professionalism and dignity in a job that commands composure.  He always greeted fans with a smile, and hello. His voice echoed through Bethpage Park to the sounds of laughter from fans. He was never above the fans, but rather one of them. Thanks Paul!