NEW YORK (AP) The Mets optioned utility player Eric Campbell to Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday, opening a roster spot for new first baseman James Loney.
Acquired from the San Diego Padres for $1 last weekend as a replacement for injured Lucas Duda, Loney batted sixth and went 0 for 4 in his New York debut, a 6-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
A fine fielder throughout his career, Loney was charged with an error in the second inning but later made a tough pickup of a low throw by third baseman Wilmer Flores.
Campbell was sent down rather than Ty Kelly, a switch-hitter who also provides defensive versatility on the bench. New York chose not to put David Wright on the disabled list, hoping the third baseman can return in a few days from a herniated disk in his neck.
Campbell, who has filled in for Duda and Wright at the corner infield spots, was batting .159 with a home run and five RBIs. He had struck out 23 times in 63 at-bats.
Mets manager Terry Collins said Loney is probably the team's top option at first base right now and will likely get playing time even against left-handed pitching.
''I'm just glad he's here. I know he's a good player and I think he's going to help us,'' said Collins, who has known Loney since he was 17 when both were in the Dodgers organization.
Duda is sidelined with a stress fracture in his lower back that is likely to keep him out until at least late June, perhaps considerably longer.
The 32-year-old Loney had 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.
He said his deal with San Diego stipulated that when the Mets expressed desire to put him on their big league roster, the Padres had 24 hours to call him up or let him go.
Now, he's excited to be with the defending NL champions.
''You can tell they've got something special going on here. I've always wanted to be a part of something like that,'' Loney said. ''I've always wanted to be in a winning atmosphere. I've had that sometimes in my career in the past. It was great to go to the playoffs. Never won a World Series. We're looking forward to doing that.''
To create room for Loney on the 40-man roster, the Mets designated Triple-A reliever Jeff Walters for assignment.
Walters was 0-2 with a 9.27 ERA and one save in 23 appearances for Las Vegas. The right-hander returned last season from Tommy John surgery. He led all minor leaguers with 38 saves in 2013 for Double-A Binghamton.