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51° Good Afternoon

Mets’ James Loney has ‘good feeling’ he’ll start at first base

James Loney of the New York Mets throws

James Loney of the New York Mets throws from first base during workout day at Citi Field on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Who’s on first for the Mets when they host the Giants on Wednesday night in the National League wild-card game?

Terry Collins knows, but he wasn’t saying whether James Loney or Lucas Duda, both lefthanded batters, would get the start against lefty Madison Bumgarner. Loney is 2-for-13 lifetime against the Giants’ ace, Duda 0-for-1. “I do have a lineup for tomorrow night and I’m not going to reveal it,’’ Collins said Tuesday.

However, the signs pointed toward Loney, who hit with the first group during batting practice and took more repetitions at first base. Loney also had a Cheshire Cat grin when asked about his expectations. “I have a good feeling about tomorrow, so I think it’s going to be good for me,’’ he said. But does he think he will start?

“I have a good feeling,’’ he repeated.

Loney wound up playing in 100 games for the Mets after they acquired him from the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate May 28. He hit .265 with nine home runs and 34 runs batted in. His two-run homer Saturday against the Phillies became the key hit as the Mets captured home field for the wild card.

Loney, 32, played in 22 postseason games for the Dodgers and Rays and hit .354 with three homers and 16 runs batted in.

“It’s been fun. It’s everything you imagine,’’ Loney said of the stretch drive with the Mets. “I’ve been in the playoffs a few times before, but here it feels special. We have all the right people here, the right talent, so I’m enjoying it.’’

When asked if he believes he had made his case to start, Loney said: “I mean, I feel good, you know I feel confident. It’s obviously their decision, but I’ll be ready.’’

Duda, who was limited to 47 games because of a stress fracture in his back, hit .229 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs.

Although Loney has not hit well against Bumgarner, he seemed anxious to give it another try.

“He’s been a great pitcher for many years now,’’ he said. “Throws strikes and competes out there. A fierce competitor. One of the best pitching matchups I think you’ve seen in a while,’’ alluding to Bumgarner’s counterpart, the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard.

Loney said his approach against Bumgarner would be to “get a good pitch to hit. He’s going to try and stay on the corners. He has a little movement. Just get a good pitch to hit and go from there.’’

The Loney-Duda decision was just one of many Collins had to make.

“Well, we used a lot of players to get to where we are, so there are a lot of pieces of guys who are not going to be part of the roster,’’ he said. “But we just thought we had to make some decisions on the guys that we think were best prepared, best ready for one game, and [the decisions] are hard, they’re very hard.’’

At first base, the leaning seems to be toward Loney.

With Marc Carig


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