Rockies release veteran Lopez
Iannetta's progress made backstop expendable
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Catcher Javy Lopez received his release from the Rockies on Monday morning and openly wondered if he'd ever get another chance to be an everyday catcher.The Rockies signed Lopez to a one-year contract that could have paid him a base salary of $1 million as insurance in case rookie Chris Iannetta needed more time. But Iannetta, who has hit .300 through his first four games, has demonstrated great strides offensively and defensively and appears ready to be used in tandem with Yorvit Torrealba, who has demonstrated health after missing much of last season with shoulder issues. That spelled the end in Colorado for Lopez, 36, who hit .375 in six spring games but was unsuccessful in the first eight steal attempts against him. "They kind of told me they want to give me the release early in Spring Training because I might have a chance to go with somebody else," Lopez said. "At this point in my career, I was looking for an opportunity. Money is not an issue, thank God, in my life.
"I don't think I'll go anywhere else as a backup. The way I feel, I can easily be an everyday catcher. If I'm not an everyday catcher, I'd rather not play this year or retire."Lopez also stated that the only place he'd go for backup duty is Atlanta, where he was a three-time All-Star. And after never finding a place with the Orioles and the Red Sox last season (.251 in 36 games), he said he will not go to the American League where teams would be tempted to used him as a designated hitter. "Javy was a unique situation," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "Everything he did here, he did here professionally. But I think the skill set for which we were looking, it probably wasn't in his best interest to go further with it.
"Out of professional respect, we talked to him about it today. It gives him an opportunityt to catch on [with another club] with some length in front of him for Spring Training."
Lopez said there were no promises from the Rockies. He had kind words for Iannetta."Fortunately for Chris, he came prepared, he showed that he could play every day," Lopez said. "I can say I gave everything I got, and I knew something like this could happen. I was kind of preparing for the worst. But at least I came here physically ready and did my best." Lopez's 243 career home runs as a catcher (he has 260 total) rank eighth in history at the position. He has a career .287 batting average and represented the Braves in the All-Star Game in 1997, 1998 and 2003.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.