By MARK LINDSLEY
(TEANECK) – Anybody who witnessed the baseball team’s practice on Tuesday would never guess what the team is dealing with right now. They had music playing, they were bouncing around the field and they were making jokes, all while doing everything they could to get better.
While the players were practicing, some of the coaches were conducting a facilities clean-up. Coach Justin McKay explained why.
“If you want to have your personal room dirty that’s one thing,” McKay told The equinox. “But to have your workspace, what represents you professionally, not be organized is not okay.”
McKay has stepped up during the last two weeks and assumed the role of interim head coach while the team’s head coach Gary Puccio deals with a medical issue.
“We want to wish coach a speedy recovery, and that doesn’t just come from me,” McKay said during the “FDU Knights Baseball Roundup” on YouTube. “It’s coming from the alumni, the players and the administration. We hope he gets better soon, we miss him already.
“These aren’t ideal conditions for me to step in,” McKay said, “but I’m happy to do so and I’m gonna do my best for the program.”
The elephant in the room is the team’s current 11-game losing streak, which has dropped their record to 7-16. It’s the cumulative result of injuries the team is dealing with. This past weekend, Jason Ortiz, the team’s second baseman, tore his rotator cuff, bringing the team’s injury total to 11, according to McKay.
“We are dealing with a significant amount of injuries,” McKay said during the Baseball Roundup. “Since I’ve been coaching, I’ve never seen it this way, especially in a particular area, being all in the infield and all the catchers besides one.”
Two of the injured players could be coming back within the next two weeks, and McKay said that could help the team.
“Anybody coming back will be great,” McKay told The Equinox, “because not only would they be coming back, but they’re gonna be infield. All of them are infield; we don’t have a single outfielder hurt.
“We have five or six quality outfielders,” McKay said, “but you can’t go from playing outfield to Division 1 infield. We’ve got two guys doing it and they’re doing the best they can.”
This weekend, the Knights have a four-game home series against an NEC opponent, the Bryant University Bulldogs.
“We’re not getting back most of the guys,” McKay told The equinox, “so to sit here and say ‘Yeah, we’re gonna run the table,’ I mean, it’s not realistic … We’re game- by-game right now and going into every game, I think we can win it until we can’t win it.”