CENTRAL ISLIP, NY— In seasons past the fortnight
before the All-Star game provided the home Citibank Park clubhouse with the ambiance of an airport terminal.
would arrive and depart in whirlwind fashion with then-manager Dave LaPoint seeking to rectify lineup and rotation deficiencies. LaPoint is still in charge
of personnel decisions, though the roster movements have been less frequent under current manager Gary Carter.
The Ducks moved back to .500 (23-23) following Thursday night’s fog-shortened win over Camden. But the club has not made a transaction since May 30. Injuries are still holding out staff ace Randy Leek and middle-of-the-order slugger Preston Wilson and their uncertain availability could mean a roster shakeup is
“You’re always looking to improve and if there are areas in which we can improve, then that will be a possibility,” Carter said. “Right now, we’re standing pat but there is a definite possibility there will be some changes.”
Entering Friday, the Ducks will be looking for its first winning streak of any kind since June 2. An Opening Day lineup that looked formidable led by ex-big leaguers Wilson, Lew Ford, Alex Prieto has struggled. The Ducks have scored just 13 runs the past six games.
Starting pitching has also lagged, contributing to the Ducks four-game deficit in the Liberty Division standings. But there is good news on that front, as Julio Manon pitched past the seventh inning for the third straight outing before the bullpen gave up four runs in two innings in a 4-2 loss to Camden Wednesday. Leek could be returning soon and Opening Day starter Brad Halsey shrugged off a rough start to fire a complete-game six hitter in which the lefty allowed just one run in the win.
Manon said there is enough talent already on the roster to gain ground in the first-half division title race. The All-Star game is June 22 in Newark though the midpoint 70-game mark doesn’t come until July’s second week. After the first 70 games, all records re-set for the second half of the league’s 140-game regular season.
“I don’t see us needing anything. Wes just haven’t had things go our way,” Manon said. “No doubt, we will turn this thing around.”
Getting Wilson healthy could help the Ducks make up ground on first-place Southern Maryland. Wilson was batting .279 with two home runs and 15 RBIs before getting hit in the face and fracturing his nose May 31. The 34-year-old is a former Major League All-Star and is the team’s primary designated hitter.
Wilson’s return could help Ford, a former Twins outfielder who is batting just .267 for the Ducks. Ford’s .316 on-base percentage is far less than the .349 average he compiled in 494 major league games spanning five seasons in Minnesota.
“There might be some changes and another key ingredient that we’re missing is Preston Wilson,” Carter said. “He’s day-to-day. It’s a matter of when he gets into some baseball activities. We’re trying to find some sort of a facemask so he can go out there and resume playing.”
“It’s going to be on his timetable. The doctor’s are leery of running him out there that quickly.”
The Ducks open a three-game home series against Newark starting Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.