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Loney finds being with Rays a good fit

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- First baseman James Loney reported to camp on Monday looking to improve on a solid 2013 campaign.

"I'm always aiming for better," Loney said. "That's my nature."

After hitting .299 with 13 home runs and 75 RBIs for the Rays in 2013, Loney became a free agent before signing a three-year, $21 million contract to remain with the team.

"I didn't know how it would turn out," said Loney, "but I'm excited to be back. The guys are great. We had a good run last year, and we're looking to build on that."

Getting a multiyear deal was important for Loney, who had many suitors as a free agent.

"In today's game, you never know what can happen," he said. "As you get older, you start thinking about those kinds of things. With a family now, and all that kind of stuff, I was excited. We were happy, and we were glad to be back in St. Pete."

Bringing Loney back ranked high among the many solid offseason moves made by the Rays. Loney noted that within the organization, "Everybody's on the same page."

"Everybody wants to win, obviously," he said. "Find the right guys and the right pieces to do that. And I think we're in a great position."

Loney arrived as a free agent in 2013, riding a one-year deal after a disappointing 2012 campaign. A lot has changed for him since then, and he has found the Rays to be a good fit.

"I would say so," he said. "It's been productive for me and knowing who I am as a player, I think more, and even as a person, just kind of growing in that regard. [The way the Rays do things] all made sense to me. Just kind of felt like that feeling I was looking for."

He also addressed what has made being with the Rays so welcoming.

"Just be yourself, go out there and do what you've got to do," he said. "It's not a complicated formula or complicated process. I think when you keep it simple like that, it makes it a lot easier."

The Rays had Gold Glove nominees at every infield position last season. In addition to Loney, there was Evan Longoria at third, Yunel Escobar at shortstop and Ben Zobrist at second.

Loney is pleased to return to the group, as evidenced by the smile on his face.

"I look at that kind of stuff real big as far as the camaraderie, the guys I knew on this team and the chemistry that we had," he said. "I think that plays a lot into evolving into a championship-type team. I feel like we've got 90 percent of the guys back."

Loney wants to win with this current group.

"I knew this place," he said. "I knew the people in here. And I knew they were committed to winning."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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