Mark Loretta's option for 2006 was vested on Aug. 19, when he reached 293 plate appearances for 2005. Finishing the season with 463 plate appearances in 105 games, the Padres' 34-year-old second baseman will earn $3.25 million for '06.
Loretta's third season in San Diego was a disappointment, largely because of a left thumb injury sustained on May 17 as he dived into first base against the Braves at PETCO Park. After surgery to repair a ligament in the thumb, Loretta missed two full months of action.
Returning to the team on July 18, he got his stroke back in August, batting .322 for the month, and was a force in the final weeks as the Padres nailed down the NL West title. He finished the season batting .280, down from his .301 career average, with three homers and 38 RBIs.
In his breakthrough year of 2003, Loretta batted .314 with 13 homers and 72 RBIs. Signing a two-year extension with an '06 option on Aug. 8, 2003, Loretta earned $2.5 million in '04 and $2.75 million in '05.
His 2004 All-Star season yielded career highs in a number of categories, including his .335 average with 16 homers, 47 doubles, 108 runs scored and 76 RBIs.
Always solid defensively, Loretta responded well to his first taste of postseason play against the Cardinals in the NLDS. He batted .267 in the three games with two RBIs and was excellent with the glove.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.