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Mark David Loretta (born August 14, 1971 in Santa Monica, California) is a second baseman and shortstop in Major League Baseball who plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Previously, Loretta played with the Milwaukee Brewers (1995-2002), Houston Astros (2002, 2007-2008), San Diego Padres (2003-2005) and Boston Red Sox (2006). He bats and throws right-handed.
On June 20, 2001, during an 11–3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, Loretta took the mound to pitch a scoreless eighth inning. Brewers manager Davey Lopes asked the team for a volunteer to pitch an inning in hopes of saving the depleted bullpen, and Loretta volunteered. He had not previously pitched since college. Loretta faced five batters, gave up one hit and one walk and got two strikeouts on 19 pitches. He was the first everyday player to pitch for the Brewers since 1991 .
Loretta was traded to the Houston Astros during the 2002 season and came to the San Diego Padres as a free agent in 2003. His most productive season came in 2004 for the Padres, when he batted .335 with 47 doubles, 16 home runs, 76 RBI, 108 runs scored, and 208 hits – all career bests, and good enough to earn him a spot on the National League All-Star team. His .335 average ranked him third in the National League batting race behind Barry Bonds (.362) and Todd Helton (.347), and he also joined Tony Gwynn as the only San Diego players to have 200 hits in a regular season. He was voted Padres team MVP in 2003 and 2004.
In 2005, Loretta hit .280 with three home runs and 38 RBI in 105 games with the Padres, after he had surgery to repair a strained ligament in his left thumb. During the 2006 offseason, Loretta was traded to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for catcher Doug Mirabelli (who was traded back to the Red Sox during the 2006 regular season).
In 2006, Loretta hit .285 with five home runs and 59 RBI in 155 games with the Red Sox. Loretta was one of the Red Sox most consistent players and was rewarded with a start at second base for the American League in the 2006 MLB All-Star Game. Due to various injuries to teammates, Loretta also filled in at first base and as the designated hitter at various points during the season. He hit his first career walk-off home run on April 17, 2006, against the Seattle Mariners on Patriots' Day at Fenway Park.
On January 4, 2007, Loretta signed with the Houston Astros on a one-year contract to serve a utility role. On June 29, 2007, with 2 outs and behind one run, the Colorado Rockies intentionally walked Carlos Lee who had hit a walk-off grand slam the night before. Loretta then hit a 2-run homer for another walk-off home run the second night in a row.
The Astros re-signed Loretta to a one-year $2.75 million contract for the 2008 season. He ended the 2008 season with a .280 batting average and 4 home runs in 261 at-bats. However, he hit .330 against left-handers. He played 46 games at second base, 17 at third base, five at shortstop and two at first base.
On December 8, 2008, Loretta signed a one-year, $1.4 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is expected to replace infielder Nomar Garciaparra, who is considering retirement due to numerous injuries.
In his 14-season career, Loretta has posted a .297 average with 76 home runs and 604 RBI in 1619 games.
Loretta is a patient contact hitter; he has also drawn praise for his ability to hit-and-run and lay down a bunt. Loretta has average speed, but is a smart base runner. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has described Loretta's defensive play as "fundamentally sound."
Loretta attended Saint Francis High School in La Cañada, California, and he was a classmate of Gregg Zaun of the Toronto Blue Jays. Loretta has a wife named Hilary, son named Frankie, and daughter named Lucy. His parents are David and Ellen Loretta, and he has a brother and a sister.
He also did a Nature Valley granola bar commercial when he was a kid.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Baseball Reference minor league statistics
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