The Long Island Ducks added veteran relief pitcher Todd Coffey to their roster earlier this month and the 35-year-old North Carolina native has already demonstrated his toughness and a burning desire to win. Ducks’ manager Kevin Baez projects Coffey as the team’s closer this year, an important role on a competitive club.
Coffey has been in the Major Leagues as recently as 2012 and has appeared in 461 games with the Reds, Braves, Nationals and Dodgers over the course of his career. The hard-throwing right-hander has a record of 25-18 in the Majors and a 4.10 ERA to go with 11 big league saves.
Coffey chose to join the Ducks because of the team’s winning tradition. Long Island reached the playoffs last year for the 10th time in the last 12 years and they have won three Atlantic League titles. “The team I like because they’re winning,” Coffey admitted. “The point is to win. You see some teams, the point is to just put people in the stands and they don’t care very much about winning. Winning is important to me. It always has been and it’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to come here.”
When on the mound, the 6’4″, 240-pound Coffey favors a direct approach and relishes the battle between pitcher and hitter. “I’m going at you with everything I’ve got,” Coffey said. “I’m not going to set you up, I’m going to attack you with my best stuff and if your best stuff is the same as mine, we’re going to go at it. It’s a battle. I’m going to be out there competing every game and I don’t leave anything in the bullpen. I’m going after you.”
The veteran believes a lot of pitching is instinctual and enjoys the pitch-by-pitch battle with batters. “I don’t have a go-to pitch,” Coffey admitted. “I don’t go in there with a game plan of, ‘OK, that’s what I’m going to throw this guy.’ My next pitch is dictated by what he swings at, how he swings at it and how he takes it…Literally the next pitch I throw to him will be determined by the first pitch I throw to him. ”
Coffey relishes the idea of being a closer because of his team-first philosophy and competitive nature. “You do not want to let your team down,” he said. “Your team is out there for eight innings, battling, getting the lead, losing the lead and getting it back. Your job is to finish it out as quickly as possible and get your guys back here for dinner.
For Coffey, the most challenging part of being a closer is mental. “You either succeed or you don’t. The toughest part is if you fail that night, to mentally forget about it and prepare yourself for the next night. You’re going to fail, but you can’t let that roll into you failing the next night and the next night.”
Coffey and his family just arrived on Long Island and he admits he hasn’t had a chance to see much of his new surroundings. “It seems very nice, but I’m in a little bit of a bubble right now, basically going from the apartment to the field. My wife and youngest son are here so we’re going to explore around when we have some time.”
After 16 pro seasons, the game is still fun for Coffey and he’s looking forward to the coming season. “It means a lot playing baseball,” he said. “It’s something I love to do. For me personally, it’s just showing that I’m healthy and that I can go out here and play the game and leave it all out on the table.”
Long Island fans will quickly grow to appreciate Todd Coffey. His work ethic and competitive spirit should be a big key to the Long Island Ducks success in 2016.