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07/03/05 8:39 PM ET
Lopez receives deserving All-Star nod
Young shortstop underwent grueling offseason preparation
By Kyle Jepson / Special to MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Felipe Lopez began the season as a reserve on the Reds. Now he'll be a reserve on the National League All-Star squad. Lopez will be making his first appearance at the All-Star Game, to be held at Detroit's Comerica Park on Tuesday, July 12 at 8 p.m. ET. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet. "Coming into the season, on Opening Day if you'd a said, 'We're going to have one guy make the All-Star team, who's it going to be?' [Lopez] probably would've been 20th on our list," manager Jerry Narron said. "To start the season and not be a starter, and to come on and make the All-Star team is just outstanding." To begin this season, Lopez wasn't even slated as the No. 1 shortstop on the team. Splitting time with Rich Aurilia, Lopez played well enough in Spring Training to be considered for the starting role. But come Opening Day, he was on the bench. Since then, he's become arguably the No. 1 shortstop in the National League. "I was excited," Lopez said of the All-Star bid. "It was a good feeling. I think I deserve the chance, and I'm honored to be picked." When the season began, Lopez admitted that an All-Star Game selection didn't even cross his mind. But that doesn't mean he's shied away from the nomination. "My goal is to, everyday, just keep grinding," he said. "In the past, I've tried to do too much, and it's too much pressure. ... I just [made sure I was] ready at all times. Even when I wasn't playing, I still stayed ready for whenever they gave me the chance." Lopez got that chance. And he wasted no time making it clear that he was ready for the spotlight. Lopez made the most of the scant playing opportunities he received in the season's first month. And by the time he launched his first career grand slam on April 27 in Chicago, it was becoming clear he deserved a regular spot in the lineup. It was only a matter of days after that. Back on May 4, Lopez was slotted into the starting lineup for good, but at second base. After Aurilia went down with a hamstring injury on May 11, Lopez became the team's regular shortstop. Even his current manager, and then-bench coach, Narron took notice of how fast Lopez took off.
Kyle Jepson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.