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Joe Torre on James Loney: ‘Defensively he’s a plus and offensively he’s a mystery’

Posted Dec 3, 2012 by Roger Mooney

Updated Dec 3, 2012 at 06:43 PM

Former Dodger manager Joe Torre took a few minutes today to talk about James Loney, his one-time first baseman in LA who agreed to a one-year contract today with the Rays.

“The only thing that always puzzled me is, Why can’t this guy be a better player? It certainly wasn’t from the lack of wanting to be and working at it. Sometimes he got in his own way, but you’re going to love having him around. Defensively he’s a plus and offensively he’s a mystery,” Torre said. “He’s still a young man. I think sometimes he just gets impatient like a lot of young hitters. Something doesn’t work and now they’re switching and all of a sudden you see three different guys up there. But that’s the only knock I have against James, and I’m not talking out of school, because he’s heard that from me.”

Loney is similar to former Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman, a good contact hitter but not big on power.

“He can be,” Torre said. “And yet if you put him in Colorado he’ll knock the walls down, man. He kills it in Colorado. And then all of a sudden he looks sick to one (pitcher) and you put on a hit-and-run and he gets the big hit. So you take the decision-making away from him a little bit, you know. Pressure doesn’t bother him, I can tell you that. He hit that grand slam in the postseason against the Cubs (in the 2008 NLDS) on a 2-2 pitch. Pressure is not going to be something that’s going to be a concern for Joe Maddon, that I can tell you, because if he doesn’t look good at the plate it’s not the pressure of the game that’s bothering him.”

Torre called Loney one of his favorite players and compared him to former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams.

“Bernie was one of my favorites in New York, and James has that wry sense of humor that you’re going to enjoy being around him.”

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