Where would the Mets be without James Loney? After losing Lucas Duda to a stress fracture in his back, the Mets acquired the former Dodger and Ray first baseman to fill in for the slugger. So far, he’s been as advertised, hitting .283 with five homers and 20 RBI, and playing excellent defense in the field.
Today before the Mets took on the Rockies, Loney took a few minutes out of his schedule to talk to NY Sports Day.
NY Sports Day: How do you like New York so far?
James Loney: It’s been great. Great team here and great energy in the stadium. I’m enjoying it.
NYSD: Did playing for the Dodgers in Los Angeles get you ready for playing in New York?
JL: It didn’t hurt. They are both big markets and they are both wanting to win every year. That’s the type of organization you want to be a part of.
NYSD: How did it hit you getting released by the Tampa Bay Rays an hour before the season started?
JL: I didn’t know what was happening, whether it was a trade or something like what happened. It worked out the best for me. When that happens to a player, you want them to look like they didn’t know what they were doing. That’s the goal.
NYSD: Were you motivated when San Diego called and sent you down to Triple-A to get back to the majors as fast as possible?
JL: Yeah I went down there and there were teams watching you play. You want to play well. You want to play well wherever you go. Someone will notice and someone will want you as an addition.
NYSD: When Lucas Duda got hurt, when did you know the Mets were interested?
JL: He got hurt a week before and went on the DL. There was talk then when I was down there that maybe that was a possibly. (The Mets) came in for a few days to check me out. There’s a great vibe here and I’m glad to be a part of it.
NYSD: Your style of play reminds a lot of Met fans of Keith Hernandez. Did you have a chance to watch Keith when you were growing up?
JL: I didn’t see him play. I have seen a lot of highlights and I knew about him, so it’s a compliment.
NYSD: So what first basemen did you watch and emulated when you were growing up?
JL: I didn’t try to emulate first baseman. I liked watching shortstops and pitchers. I grew up watching (Derek) Jeter and Ozzie Smith towards the end of his career. Pitchers I watched were Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. Those were the guys I watched.
NYSD: With your line drive swing. What approach do you take when you come up to the plate?
JL: You know there are many types of pitchers out there. A lot of times they stay away from you and you can take the pitch the other way. It’s been part of the game. I pull at times too. It’s just going up there and having a feel. It’s worked well and obviously, you can’t hit a home run every time you want to, but you can try and get a spot every time. It’s ok to get some hits, too.
NYSD: You were in the National League for many years with the Dodgers and then in the American with the Rays. Are you more comfortable being back in the National League?
JL: It doesn’t bother me with Interleague play and guys always changing teams. It really doesn’t matter.
NYSD: Are there a lot of distractions being on the Mets with so many things going on with the club in New York?
JL: I think guys embrace it. I was in different organizations and you want to play in a big market with a good team. Anytime you can be on a team that’s contending, that’s all you want.
NYSD: Next week is the Subway Series. Are you looking forward to playing in it after playing for years in the Freeway Series?
JL: It’s going to be a little different. I’m looking forward to it. There’s a lot of chants going on and I’m excited to play in those games.