Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays happy that Loney finds new club in Padres

First baseman James Loney, shown during spring training before the Rays released him, expects to be part of the Padres’ lineup in the near future.


First baseman James Loney, shown during spring training before the Rays released him, expects to be part of the Padres’ lineup in the near future.

BALTIMORE — When 1B James Loney was officially told last week there was no room for him on the Rays roster, he said he expected things to end up working out well for him.

That appears to be the case, as Loney, after being released with the Rays responsible for his $8 million salary, signed with San Diego, which just happens to be where he lives.

Technically, he signed a minor-league deal, but he is expected to be called up and become part of the Padres lineup in the relative near future.

"I feel great where I'm at now and so ecstatic to be able to play the game I love," Loney, 31, told the Tampa Bay Times. "I did not like missing opening day, but I am embracing this new journey I am on. I will go down there and play and let the Padres determine when they are ready to call me up."

After being released by the Rays on Sunday and clearing waivers Wednesday, Loney was free to sign with any team, and it would have to pay him only the prorated share of the $507,500 minimum salary, with the Rays covering the rest.

"I was looking for the most playing opportunities," Loney said. "So the dialogue the Padres conveyed to me was something I was comfortable with."

The Rays bumped the slick-fielding Loney, their starter the previous three seasons, out of a position by acquiring more offensive-oriented Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce to play first, and Corey Dickerson to DH.

Several players said Friday that they were glad to see he got a new gig. So was manager Kevin Cash.

"I'm very happy for J-Lo," Cash said. "That was a difficult decision for all of us. He's a big-league player, we all know that. He'll go there, and he'll help that club quite a bit. He has a veteran presence, and he's a guy that can hit."

GOING LONGO: Evan Longoria's first-inning blast extended the Rays' club-record streak to 19 straight games with a homer, longest by any team since the 2013 Mariners did 23. … It also was Longoria's seventh homer off Orioles RHP Chris Tillman, his most against any pitcher (CC Sabathia, six).

WELL-ARMED: As expected, Major League Baseball arranged for additional security to accompany the Rays after an incident in Bradenton stemming from their trip to Cuba.

Jim Previtera, one of their MLB resident security agents, who also serves as assistant St. Petersburg police chief, is on this trip, and there will be a presence on others. During a March 26 game in Bradenton, a man was arrested after running onto the field, screaming obscenities related to Cuba and throwing a can of beer into their dugout.

CHANGED UP: LHP Drew Smyly starts tonight, weather permitting, planning to continue making more use of his changeup after mostly positive feedback in his Monday season debut.

Smyly worked during the spring on gaining command of and confidence in the changeup, which he throws with a circle grip, saying, "I think I finally got it down." It gives him another option against right-handers, though he said it won't supplant his curve and slider as primary alternatives to his fastball.

"I think it can be a pretty good weapon for me," he said.

FAMILIAR FACES: Friday provided for two reunions. Pearce returned to Baltimore, where he played the previous three-plus seasons and was a favorite of Orioles manager Buck Showalter. And CF Joey Rickard, a Rule 5 draft pick by Baltimore, played against his former Rays minor-league teammates, going 2-for-4 while batting leadoff. He is 7-for-15 with hits in each of his first four big-league games.

MISCELLANY: The first-pitch temperature was announced at 50 degrees. … Morrison, after hitting into a first-inning double play on a ball he, and Cash initially, thought was foul and striking out, got his first Rays hit. SS Brad Miller was 0-for-4 and ran his season-opening hitless streak to 14 at-bats.

Rays happy that Loney finds new club in Padres 04/08/16 [Last modified: Saturday, April 9, 2016 12:07am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  2. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  4. Bucs journal: Starting defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.