Mets find help at first base, get Loney in trade with Padres
NEW YORK (AP) The Mets found some help at first base following Lucas Duda's injury, acquiring veteran James Loney from the San Diego Padres for cash on Saturday.
Loney has spent this season in the minors, playing well for Triple-A El Paso. He was batting .342 with two home runs and 28 RBIs over 43 games in the Pacific Coast League.
Always a fine fielder, the 32-year-old Loney hit .280 with four homers, 16 doubles and 32 RBIs in 104 games with Tampa Bay last year. The Rays released him April 3 and he signed with the Padres on April 8.
''He brings great defense at first base,'' said Mets catcher Rene Rivera, who played with Loney on the Rays last season. ''He can step up and help us.''
Duda was put on the disabled list Monday with a stress fracture in his lower back that is expected to sideline him at least four to six weeks, probably longer.
Wally Backman, manager of the Mets' affiliate at Triple-A Las Vegas, said he knew Loney had an out in his Padres contract and made a phone call to New York's front office after Duda went down.
Backman, whose team faced Loney several times this season, was at Citi Field on Saturday for the 30th anniversary celebration of the Mets' 1986 World Series championship.
''Loney was sort of an immediate, obvious possibility, in terms of ease of acquisition and a variety of things,'' Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. ''We had somebody go in and look at James last week, couple of days. We had had some reports from earlier in the month and felt this was the right move for us at the moment.''
Until Duda returns, manager Terry Collins said Loney, a left-handed hitter, will mostly face right-handed pitching in a first-base platoon with Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell. Flores is close to returning from a strained hamstring.
Alderson said Loney might not be added to the active major league roster until Tuesday, the next time the Mets are scheduled to face a right-handed starter.
Loney lacks Duda's power but is a .285 career hitter in the majors with 99 home runs, 251 doubles and a .338 on-base percentage with the Dodgers, Rays and Red Sox.
''Hopefully Lucas is back soon, but in the meantime we felt we needed probably another left-handed bat, and interestingly enough, James doesn't have a lot of power or hasn't demonstrated that, but we've got that elsewhere in the lineup,'' Alderson said. ''So somebody that hits from the left side, contact hitter, doesn't strike out a lot, could be a nice fit for us. We'll just have to see what happens.''