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Loney eyeing weekend return to lineup

Rays first baseman currently on 15-day DL with mild oblique strain

ST. PETERSBURG -- James Loney took his first full batting practice on Tuesday since going on the disabled list. The veteran first baseman believes he will be playing for the Rays by the weekend.

Loney went on the 15-day disabled list with a mild oblique strain on April 8 retroactive to April 7.

A man of few words, Loney dismissed the idea that he would play in a rehab game either Tuesday or Wednesday leading to a return to the team on Thursday. However, he did sound sure of himself when he indicated he could play one rehab game and be back with the team by the weekend.

When a reporter suggested Friday, Loney replied: "This weekend, thinking."

When asked what he still had to prove to get back on the field, Loney said, "I don't know."

Kevin Cash was asked about Loney's approximation for his return and the Rays manager echoed Loney for the most part, save for an ounce of caution.

"He took batting practice today," Cash said. "He looked really good. No side effects from anything. Tough to evaluate that immediately after. We'll probably know more tomorrow morning, or even later tonight after the game. But it's tough to gauge how a guy feels until they kind of recover and cool down a bit."

Cash also suggested that Loney might need to play in two rehab games before returning to the team.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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