For the La Canada native, signing with the Dodgers in December 2008 meant playing for the first team he saw play when he was six years old. Mark Loretta debuted in 1995 and he had played for four teams before joining the Dodgers for the 2009 season.
At the time he was signed, manager Joe Torre told LA Times reporter Dylan Hernandez, “he used to beat my brains out when he was with the Red Sox,” Torre said. “Every time you think you had him out with two strikes, he’d get a base hit to right field.”
Loretta had made two All-Star teams and was awarded the Silver Slugger in 2004 when he hit .335/.391/.495 in 707 plate appearances for the San Diego Padres. During that year, Loretta hit 47 doubles and 16 home runs. He scored 108 runs and drove in 76.
Loretta was versatile, starting 743 games at second, 337 at shortstop, 173 games at third base and 147 starts at first base.
The 2009 Dodgers had a pretty set lineup for most of the season and that included their middle infield. Orlando Hudson started 143 games at second and Rafael Furcal made 141 starts at shortstop. When you add Casey Blake’s 131 starts at third base, that does not leave a lot games for a utility infielder to start.
And that was true for Mark Loretta. He made 14 starts at third base and 14 at first base. He played 6⅓ innings at second base in all of 2009.
What he did do was pinch-hit. He had 68 pinch-hit plate appearances which was by far the highest in his career. In his previous two seasons, he had 51 total pinch-hit plate appearances.
He wasn’t a particularly good pinch-hitter. Loretta hit .230./309/.262 with 14 hits in 61 at-bats.
Ryan Franklin was the kind of closer who could make you nervous because he gave up a lot of contact. If you look at some of his numbers in the 2009 season, you might think, okay, a pretty good year.
The good numbers, 38 saves and a 1.92 ERA. But he also only struck out 44 in 61 innings pitched and he had a 3.31 FIP.
Loretta was 0-for-15 with one walk in his career against Franklin. But he also only struck out twice so that meant, he could put the ball in play.
Loretta would say this was the biggest hit of his career. It was also the last hit of his career. He would go 0-for-2 against the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2009 National Championship Series.
A few months after that series, Loretta announced his retirement and said he would be taking a front office job with the San Diego Padres.
As reported in LA Times and MLB.com, Loretta looked forward to his new opportunity while also looking favorably to his year in Los Angeles.
“It was a culmination of several things ... a lot of things came together to make me feel as if it was time,” Loretta told MLB.com. “I knew [San Diego General Manager] Jed [Hoyer] in Boston and being able to come back to the Padres was a draw.
“Also, I wanted to end my career on a positive note. Last year with the Dodgers was a great year from a team standpoint, I got a big hit and I got to play for Joe Torre.”
Most recently, Loretta served as the Chicago Cubs bench coach. However, after David Ross was named manager, Loretta was replaced by Andy Green.