If At First…There’s James Loney

Mets fans, meet your permanent first baseman.

For now.

With Lucas Duda out with a stress fracture in his lower back, it appears James Loney will be slated in as a starter at first base. With the many moves from Collins in bouncing around starters, one could understand the possibility of seeing Loney elsewhere.

Wilmer Flores went from playing second base to playing third base after David Wright was injured. Flores lost the role at third and is yet to return to second with that spot being filled by Neil Walker.

“I think they’re going to keep me at first for the most part” said Loney.

He wasn’t fully aware of if he would be stationed at first base for the remainder of the season or not as the team continues to battle through injuries. Staying healthy is the key for the Mets if they plan to make a run at the first place Washington Nationals.

“This team is resilient and can always battle back and we obviously wish the best for Harvey,” Loney said, “but I know we can provide the offense needed when it matters most.”

Since Duda has been out, Loney has stepped in and and has been attempting to provide the offense you would typically see out of a first baseman. In roughly in as many games played as Duda, Loney has put forth better numbers. Loney has out hit Duda and has hit for a higher average. On top of that, Loney owns a higher on base percentage and slugging percentage. But he is still a few RBI and HR short of Duda’s numbers.

Loney was in a pickle as the season started. He was cut by the Tampa Bay Rays, who ate the $8 million owed to him. Sand Diego gave him a job in Triple-A El Paso until the Mets came calling in May.

Now that he’s back in “The Show,” he knows what he has to do to stay.

“I just have to keep playing hard” said Loney. “Even if that means getting a big hit, making a big defensive play, or just good base running, I just have to be an all around player.”

While Duda has played just seven years, Loney is in the majors for 11 yeason with the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Rays and compiled much better numbers. When Duda returns to the line up, would it really make much sense to remove Loney?

His stats alone would override any such decision from the Mets organization and many fans would hope Loney would stay put at first base. With nearly double the amount of RBI and almost triple the amount of hits, how could anyone not want Loney in the line up. If the Mets were in the American League could just use Duda as the designated hitter.

But he would play anywhere.

“Quite frankly, I’d like to play short but I don’t think that could happen” said Loney.

Loney has found his time in New York thus far to be rather enjoyable. After all, it’s better to be with a winning club like the Mets, who are currently on a surge since they were last swept in Washington. They took care of business in a sweep of their own over the Chicago Cubs and look to keep their high powered offense rolling in the series rematch against the Nationals this weekend.

“You always want to be in a winning position and it’s a great atmosphere here” said Loney. “It’s a great environment here. We’re all about winning, and being the best team we can be.”

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