06/16/2003 7:13 PM ET
Reds notes: Lopez leaving
CINCINNATI -- Intent on giving Felipe Lopez the playing time he needs, the Reds optioned the 23-year-old shortstop to Triple-A Louisville on Monday.
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
For practical purposes, the Reds made the move to clear roster room for left-hander Jimmy Anderson, who started Monday night's series opener against the Chicago Cubs. What the transaction really meant, however, was that Lopez, dubbed Cincinnati's "shortstop of the future" when the Reds acquired him last December in a four-way trade, isn't ready to occupy the position on a full-time basis.
Lopez acknowledged that everyday activity at Triple-A should bring him closer to realizing his promise. "That will help me a lot with everything," said Lopez, who also split each of the previous two seasons between the Major Leagues and minors. "I'm not mad or disappointed or anything. This is to help me. I don't see it another way."
Shortstop Barry Larkin, who had worked extensively with Lopez since Spring Training, emphasized patience. "It's just a bump in the road. I think the direction's clear," Larkin said, conveying his faith in Lopez's skill. "It's just a matter of what he does to show the consistency to take over the reins."
Lopez had been sagging offensively and inconsistent defensively. Locked in a 6-for-47 slump upon being demoted, the switch-hitter owned a .213 batting average with two home runs, 13 RBIs and eight stolen bases in 13 attempts. He had played 59 games, starting 47.
Lopez also had committed a team-high 16 errors, recording all but one while playing shortstop.
By early June, when the Reds played the New York Yankees in an Interleague series at Great American Ball Park, local fans decided they had had enough of Lopez and began booing him lustily.
"It affected him, for sure," Reds manager Bob Boone said. "He's a sensitive kid. He's young. That affects anybody. You need a lot of experience to deal with that."
Since striking out three times in three consecutive starts between May 31 and June 4, Lopez's status on the club appeared shaky. He had started twice since June 4, eclipsed by infielder Ray Olmedo, who began the year with Double-A Chattanooga.
"The Felipe playing right now is not the guy we saw in Spring Training," Boone said. "He has to get some things worked out with his stroke. Sitting here is not doing him any good."
"I don't know how I feel," said Lopez. "I want to be up here, but I have to play. I'll go down there, get my game straight and hopefully come back and help the team."
Oh yes, Olmedo: Lopez's departure reflects well on Olmedo, who surpassed Lopez on the Reds' pecking order, at least for the short term.
Like Lopez, Olmedo had minor league options and could have been demoted to accommodate Anderson. But, said Boone, "The way Ray has played in the past week, it was pretty clear-cut," adding that Olmedo currently is "much more sound mechanically" than Lopez.
Boone said that he wants Olmedo to fill the utility infielder's duties. The 22-year-old should receive a fair amount of playing time in that role, since Larkin (calves) and second baseman Juan Castro (left knee) are expected to rest once or twice a week to avoid aggravating their old injuries.
Riedling throws: John Riedling, who's on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis, played catch Monday with Luke Prokopec, another recovering right-hander, and reported favorable results.
Riedling said he hopes to graduate to long-distance catch and throw off a bullpen mound Wednesday.
"After that cortisone shot (last Thursday), I don't feel (pain) in that spot any more," he said.
Quick pitches: Center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. escaped injury when he banged his right arm against the outfield wall in pursuit of Eric Karros' sixth-inning homer Monday. Griffey came down holding his arm, but explained later that he merely hit his funny bone. "Nothing's wrong," said Griffey, who dislocated his right shoulder on April 5 against the Cubs and spent 37 days on the disabled list. ... The Reds hosted the baseball team from St. Xavier High School, winners of Ohio's Division I state baseball title. ... Sean and Mandi Casey have donated 20 tickets to the nursing staff at Good Samaritan Hospital for Wednesday's game against Chicago. These tickets are being used by the Labor & Delivery nurses as well as the Care Coordinators that took care of Mandi while she was at Good Samaritan delivering Jacob, the couple's second son, in April.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.