The Rays are willing to press their luck with James Loney

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James Loney’s 2013 season was a pleasant surprise. And it sounds like the Rays are prepared to gamble that it, and not his miserable 2012 is more representative of what he’ll do going forward. The Tampa Tribune reports that the Rays are interested in re-signing their first baseman and Loney reportedly has an interest of staying in Tampa Bay too.

Loney was a bargain on a one-year, $2 million deal for 2013. He’ll likely command some interest on the free agent market this winter, but not excessive interest given that he’s a known quantity to most teams by now. When his average is up that and his good defense make him a useful, although by no means superior first baseman. When his average is down he’s a drag on your team.

That’s probably worth more than $2 million but less than bank-breaking dollars in this day and age. And if everyone is happy with that, it’s a decent enough match.

Kendrys Morales pitched a scoreless inning Sunday

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Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.

Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.

Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.

On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.