Ex-big leaguer James Loney joins Korean club

By Yonhap
  • Published : Jul 18, 2017 - 17:32
  • Updated : Aug 11, 2017 - 13:20

Former major league first baseman James Loney has joined a South Korean club.

The LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization announced Tuesday they've signed Loney to a $350,000 deal for the rest of the season. The 33-year-old first baseman with 11 big league seasons to his credit is replacing Luis Jimenez, a third baseman who was struggling in his third KBO season.

Loney was selected 19th overall in the 2002 Major League Baseball draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played six and a half seasons for the Dodgers before being dealt to the Boston Red Sox during the 2012 season.

Loney then signed with the Tampa Bay Rays as a free agent before the 2013 season, and stayed there through 2015. He spent the last season with the New York Mets.

For his career, Loney batted .284 with 108 home runs, 669 RBIs and 1,425 hits in 1,443 games.

In this EPA file photo taken on June 24, 2016, James Loney (C), then of the New York Mets, is congratulated by his teammates after scoring against the Atlanta Braves in the fourth inning of the teams' Major League Baseball game at Turner Field in Atlanta. Loney signed with the LG Twins in South Korea on July 18, 2017. (Yonhap)
In 2017, Loney has played in 18 Triple-A games in the Atlanta Braves and the Detroit Tigers systems, batting .218 with two RBIs in 18 games.

The Twins said they liked the veteran's gap power and his patience at the plate, and said he can be a quality defender at first base.

Jimenez joined the Twins in the middle of the 2015 season and batted .312 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs in 70 games. In his first full KBO season last year, Jimenez emerged as a force in the heart of their lineup with a .308 average, 26 home runs, 102 RBIs and 18 steals.

In 2017, Jimenez was batting .276 with seven homers and 30 RBIs in 51 games, before spraining his left ankle when he stepped on a base awkwardly on June 2.

The Twins had been hoping he'd return to action by late July, but they decided to go with a new face as the second-half of the season gets underway Tuesday.

At the All-Star break, the Twins were at 41-40-1 (wins-losses-ties), good for sixth place among 10 teams and one game behind the Doosan Bears for the wild card spot.

The Twins are currently last in the KBO in home runs with 55. The league's two best home run hitters, Choi Jeong and Han Dong-min of the SK Wyverns, have combined for 57 long balls. (Yonhap)