By Joe Rini
I had an interesting pair of chats before the game today because while each player is a recent addition to the Mets, and both spent the early part of this season in the minor leagues, both are at very different stages of their careers. James Loney is 32-years old, a 10 year veteran of the major leagues with a solid .285 career batting average. Ty Kelly made his major league debut on May 24 at the somewhat advanced age (for a rookie) of 27 and has already been sent down and called up again from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Loney’s tenure in the minor leagues was probably more due to baseball economics (the San Diego Padres had signed him to a minor league deal in the off-season) than to ability because he hit .280 last season, so his return to the majors was just a matter of time. Kelly had been in the minor leagues since 2009 for five different major league organizations before his call up by the Mets. Both players have hit their first home runs in a Mets uniform; for Loney it was number 100; for Kelly, it was number one.
Loney’s a confident major leaguer, who’s playing mostly everyday and knows how to handle slumps and the long grind of a season. Kelly is learning to stay confident in his ability and trying to make the most of his sporadic opportunities on the major league level without trying to do too much or try to be someone he is not.
It’s the top of the ninth inning and the Mets trail the Braves 4-3. Loney is 2 for 2 with a walk (halfway to the cycle with a double and a triple) with one more at bat coming up before the end of the game. Kelly’s on the bench, perhaps waiting for a key pinch hitting opportunity. For Loney, this is a day in the life of a major leaguer. For Kelly, it could be the start of one.