James Loney is greeted by manager Don Mattingly as he returns to the dugout… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
James Loney laughed.
The line of questioning Saturday was the same he has faced every year around this time of the season: how the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline could affect him.
Loney was batting .255 with two home runs and 21 runs batted in through Friday. With Loney producing at substandard levels for a first baseman, many of the players mentioned as potential trade targets play his position.
The Dodgers remained "fringe" contenders to acquire Kevin Youkilis from the Boston Red Sox, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.
"It's part of it," Loney said. "Even if a friend mentions it, it's not like it's, 'Oh my God.' It's just something in the news. It's not something you're losing sleep over."
While ignoring the sound and the fury of the rumor mill is nothing new to Loney, he is dealing with something he has never experienced in his impending free agency.
The Dodgers' first-round pick in the 2002 draft, Loney will no longer be under club control at the end of the season.
Loney, 28, closed last season spectacularly to force the Dodgers to retain him. His hope is that he can close this season similarly and extend his stay even longer.
"For me, I would love to stay here," Loney said. "It depends on what they want to do."
Loney said he isn't overly preoccupied about his future.
"It's not like, 'Oh my God, it can be my last year,' " he said. "The guys on this team, we're focused on winning. The other stuff, it just happens — trades and all that other stuff."
If anything, he sounded curious about free agency.
"You'd be curious about it," he said. "It's something that you never had. It's something different."
Don Mattingly praises Mike Trout
The Dodgers have faced Angels outfielder Mike Trout enough for Manager Don Mattingly to recognize he is a special player.
"This year, he seems more settled," Mattingly said. "He seems more confident. He's impressive, he really is. He's big and strong."
The Dodgers are one of a handful of teams that have faced Trout Bryce Harper, the highly touted 19-year-old Washington Nationals outfielder.
"They're both pretty good," Mattingly said. "They're different kinds of guys. Harper is aggressive, attacks you, intense, kind of Kirk Gibson-ish. This guys is just smoother. He's smoother and powerful, a lot cleaner player."
Asked to compare Trout's speed with that of Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon, Mattingly said, "That'd be a good little race. I wouldn't want to tackle Trout. I wouldn't mind hitting Dee in the open field, though."
Gordon is listed at 160 pounds.