The Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) yesterday announced that they have hired former MLBer Darin Downs as the team’s pitching coach for the 2021 season. He joins returning manager Wally Backman and hitting coach Lew Ford on the Ducks coaching staff.
Downs enjoyed three seasons on Long Island as a player. His professionalism and successful run in West Islip, NY, made him an easy hire for Ducks President/GM Michael Pfaff and the rest of the team’s brass.
“Darin was a consummate professional and outstanding teammate during his three-year pitching career with us,” Pfaff said in a press release. “Frank Boulton, Bud Harrelson, and our entire ownership group have always believed in hiring and growing from within. Giving Darin his first opportunity as a coach is in keeping with that tradition.”
Downs enters the coaching ranks after a 17-year pro-playing career, which includes three seasons at the Major League level. He pitched two years with the Detroit Tigers (2012-13) and one with the Houston Astros (2014), combining to make 92 relief appearances. He went 4-4 with a 4.76 ERA and 84 strikeouts to 39 walks over 90.2 innings of work.
As a player with the Ducks, Downs helped them capture the 2019 Atlantic League Championship. And he said he is looking forward to helping Long Island defend its crown this season as a coach.
“I am excited to get my coaching career underway on Long Island, a place that has afforded me many opportunities to continue my career and, most recently, to win a championship,” Downs said. “I want to thank Michael Pfaff and Wally Backman for bringing me on to help defend our title.”
In addition to 2019 with the Flock, the 36-year-old Florida resident previously spent time with the Ducks in 2015 and 2016. In his three campaigns with Long Island, Downs amassed a 15-13 record with a 3.28 ERA, 303 strikeouts, 87 walks, and 282.1 innings pitched over 50 starts.
— Jerry Del Priore