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James Loney could pitch for Dodgers on Sunday -- seriously

August 21, 2011 | 11:31 am

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While most of his teammates were in the clubhouse on Sunday morning, James Loney ran onto the grass at Coors Field and started playing long toss. Soon he was in the bullpen, throwing off the mound.

Loney is starting at first base and batting sixth against the Colorado Rockies, but Manager Don Mattingly said he told Loney that he could be called on to pitch in an emergency.

“Let’s hope we don’t see it today,” Mattingly said.

The Dodgers used all of their pitchers in a 7-6, 13-inning loss to the Rockies on Saturday night.

Hiroki Kuroda, who started on Friday, skipped his regularly scheduled bullpen session and volunteered to pitch an inning in relief. Utilityman Eugenio Velez, who is batting .000, is also under consideration to pitch.

“I’m on deck, I’m on deck,” Loney told his teammates in the clubhouse.

When the Dodgers drafted Loney in the first round of the 2002 draft, most teams viewed him as a pitcher. As a senior at Elkins High in Texas, Loney was 9-1 with a 1.80 earned-run average.

Loney still keeps a pitcher’s glove in his locker.

“For days like today,” he said.

Loney used to jokingly ask former managers Grady Little and Joe Torre to let him pitch, but he was never taken seriously because of his value as a position player. Mattingly denied that his openness to the possibility reflected a change in the way the Dodgers viewed Loney’s future with the club.

Loney is batting a career-low .254 with five home runs and 37 runs batted in.

“No, no,” Mattingly said. “This is just emergency.”

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-- Dylan Hernandez in Denver

Photo: Dodgers first baseman James Loney. Credit: Barry Gutierrez / Associated Press

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