James Loney spoke with Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles yesterday, issuing his first public comments since news broke that he was arrested last month on suspicion of driving under the influence after crashing into three cars.
Among other things, Loney claims that he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and has no memory of what happened after colliding with the first car and hitting his head. One other interesting note is that he didn’t inform the Dodgers of his arrest and that the team learned through a third party.
“Definitely, I should have made them aware,” Loney said. “I should have told them what happened. I should have done that. They have my back, and they know what type of person I am and what type of character I have, and they are here to help me. I am sorry if I offended anyone and grateful there were no serious injuries. I had no intention to hurt or offend anyone. There were no charges filed against me. I appreciate the police watching out for my welfare that night.”
The incident comes at an interesting time for Loney, who is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter. The non-tender deadline is Monday, though Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that he is still comfortable offering him a contract unless other damning information emerges.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.