Reds send Lopez down

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

CINCINNATI - Felipe Lopez handled his demotion the way he has handled most of his setbacks this season. If it bothered him, he wasn't letting on.

The Cincinnati Reds sent the struggling shortstop to Triple-A Louisville on Monday to open a roster spot for left-hander Jimmy Anderson, who was called up to start against the Chicago Cubs.

The move wasn't a surprise. Lopez was batting only .213 and led the team with 16 errors, making him the obvious choice to go.

Email newsletter signup

''I don't know how I feel,'' Lopez said, before heading out of the clubhouse. ''I want to be up here, but I've got to play.''

Lopez, 23, was obtained in an offseason trade that cost the Reds their top starter, Elmer Dessens, and brought them their next everyday shortstop. Lopez is expected to take over next season for 39-year-old Barry Larkin, who wants to stay with his hometown team as a backup.

Lopez got plenty of opportunities to play when Larkin went on the disabled list twice with leg injuries, but struggled defensively and at the plate, drawing a harsh reaction from fans.

He was primarily a backup after Larkin returned from the disabled list last week. He'll be the starting shortstop at Louisville.

''Playing every day is going to help me a lot with everything,'' Lopez said. ''I'm not mad or disappointed or anything. This is to help me.''

Manager Bob Boone thinks that Lopez will benefit greatly from the chance to work on things as a starter in the minors.

''Felipe right now is not the guy we saw in spring training,'' Boone said. ''He's got to get some things worked out with his stroke. He's just got to play.''

The low point for Lopez came on May 22, when he struck out three times and had a fielding gaffe during a 9-4 loss to Atlanta at Great American Ball Park. He had his back to the infield while taking a relay, and didn't see a runner heading home from third until it was too late.

He was booed loudly when he came off the field and every time he came to bat again. As his slump went on, fans repeatedly vented their frustrations.

''It affected him, just like it affects the manager,'' Boone said. ''He's a sensitive kid. He's young. It affects anybody. You need a lot of experience to deal with that.''

Larkin, who heard boos as he struggled while playing with a groin injury in 2001, thinks Lopez handled the criticism well for a young player.

''I paid close attention when he was going through what he was going through,'' Larkin said. ''I think he handled it very well. So that's a positive that can come out of all that's going on. That's one thing I said to him: I liked how he handled that. I though he handled failure very well.

''It's just a bump in the road. I think the direction is clear. It's just a matter of what he has to do to show the consistency to take over the reins.''


BOONE AGAIN: Aaron Boone was chosen as the NL Player of the Week for the second time this season. He's the first Reds player to win two of the honors in one season since Eric Davis in 1987.

Boone hit .556 with a homer and seven RBIs last week - numbers that were a little underwhelming to his teammates.

''What did he do?'' outfielder Adam Dunn said. ''Do the managers vote on that award?''

No, Aaron's father, manager Bob Boone, didn't have anything to do with him getting it.

''See,'' Aaron said. ''The reaction shows it wasn't that good of a week.''

He didn't have the biggest game for the Reds, but was the most consistent as they went 4-1.


SAMMY BACK: Sammy Sosa took batting practice Monday and put on a fan-pleasing show. He hit numerous balls into the seats and two that landed on the roof of the batter's eye building in center field.

''That a boy, Sammy!'' one fan yelled from the upper deck.

Sosa has two games left on a seven-game suspension for using a corked bat. He said he used a corked bat in batting practice to hit long drives for the fans, and mistakenly used it in a game.

He didn't accompany the Cubs for a weekend series in Toronto, staying back in Chicago to work on his hitting.

Sosa is expected to return to the lineup in the third game of the series on Wednesday. He declined interviews when he got to the ballpark, reserving his comments for a news conference on Tuesday.