Felipe Lopez is the talk of the town this morning, and both of the Cincinnati papers have taken the same approach to the story. The headline in the Enquirer:
And here’s the Post’s headline:
After it was announced that Reds shortstop Felipe Lopez was the team’s lone representative to the All-Star Game, the 25-year old was asked if he had a bonus clause in his contract for making the National League squad.
Lopez, sitting at his locker surrounded by reporters, only shrugged. A few seconds later he answered the question the best he could.
“I didn’t even know if I was going to start this year,” Lopez said. “I didn’t think about (the All-Star game).”
Lopez didn’t become the Reds regular shortstop until May 11 when Rich Aurilia went on the disabled list. Since then he’s been the best offensive shortstop in the National League. He leads all regular NL shortstops in home runs (14), RBIs (48) and batting average (.321).
I especially enjoyed this:
One of those he considered family, he said, was former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin.
Larkin, who retired before this season and is now with the Washington Nationals organization, mentored Lopez since he’d come to the majors in 2003. Larkin’s guidance was one of the major reasons Lopez got the All-Star call Sunday, he said.
“He’s like my brother,” Lopez said of Larkin, who represented the Reds at the All-Star Game 12 times in his career. “He helped me every day, mostly with the mental part of the game. We talked about life, mostly.”
One of the things Larkin helped Lopez with was his approach to the game. Instead of setting big, long-term goals like making the All-Star team, Lopez said he plays better when he focuses only on the immediate concerns.
Neither of the articles examine exactly why Lopez was benched in favor of Rich Aurilia for more than a month to start the season. Which isn’t surprising, unfortunately. The Post’s article did say this:
Earlier this season, his goal was pretty modest – simply getting into the game.
The veteran Aurilia won the starting shortstop position out of spring training and handled it for more than the first month of the season.
During this time, then-bench coach and now manager Jerry Narron watched how Lopez reacted, and said it was just as he hoped. Lopez continued to work and wait for his opportunity.
“The thing I liked seeing him early in the year when he wasn’t playing was he was working hard and he didn’t get down,” Narron said. “I think he understood he was going to get a chance to play and he did everything he could to stay ready.”
He got that chance, and when Aurilia returned from the DL, he had no chance at unseating Lopez. Aurilia is now playing second base, a position he played just 18 times before this season.
Can someone please explain to me exactly how Aurilia won the starting shortstop position?
Oh well, all I can say is that we have archives here at Redleg Nation, and you can go look and see that we were on the Felipe Lopez bandwagon a long time ago. I’m glad that others are recognizing his talent.
Congrats, Felipe. Make Redleg Nation proud in Detroit. We’ll be watching.