Tag: Rodrigo Lopez

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The Orioles pursuit of A.J. Burnett in 2005: “no way we sign a guy with nipple rings”


Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun talks about the Orioles’ potential pursuit of free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett. In the process, he tells an amusing story about the last time the O’s had a chance to get Burnett. It was in 2005, when the Marlins were shopping him before he hit the free agent market. The O’s had a chance to get him and Mike Lowell for a package of prospects that, in hindsight, were no great shakes.

That didn’t happen, of course, as the O’s front office thought that, if Burnett wanted to pitch in Baltimore they could sign him that winter. That didn’t happen either, because he went to Toronto. But Conolly tells us that the O’s front office at that time wasn’t likely to go after Burnett anyway. Why?

. . .sources said Burnett, with his tattoos and body piercings, did not project the image that the Orioles wanted in one of their marquee players. Or, as one club official said to me at the time — and I think he was at least half-joking — “no way we sign a guy with nipple rings.”

Instead, the 2006 Orioles went to battle with respectable citizens in their rotation like Rodrigo Lopez, Kris Benson and Daniel Cabrera and allowed 899 runs. But at least there were no nipple rings involved.

Well, probably not. I’ve never seen Jeff Conine or Sam Perlozzo with their shirts off.

Italy rallies in ninth, defeats Mexico 6-5

Drew Butera

Thanks to some shoddy outfield defense from Edgar Gonzalez, Italy pulled off a shocker Thursday, defeating Mexico 6-5 to start Pool D play in the World Baseball Classic.

Gonzalez, normally an infielder, misplayed two balls in left in the top of the ninth, opening the door for Italy’s two-run inning against Sergio Romo.

Anthony Rizzo was credited with a two-run double on a ball that bounced out of Gonzalez’s glove, giving Italy the lead. Mexico tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases against Jason Grilli before Jorge Cantu grounded out to end it.

Adrian Gonzalez, Edgar’s younger brother, reached base five times, and Cantu delivered a three-run double for Mexico.

Italy jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Rodrigo Lopez in the top of the first, but it didn’t last long, as Mexico responded by loading the bases in front of Cantu’s double in the bottom of the inning. Mexico added a fourth run on a Ramiro Pena double in the second.

Italy was able to come back and tie the game in the fourth, when Twins catcher Drew Butera hit a two-run homer. Mexico, though, again responded in the fifth. Luis Cruz doubled in Eduardo Arredondo to make it 5-4. The game might have ended with that score, but Gonzalez had trouble on both a ball hit over his head by Nick Punto and Rizzo’s fly in the ninth.

Pool D play will continue Friday afternoon, when Canada takes on Italy. Mexico and the United States will have their showdown Friday night, with Yovani Gallardo and R.A. Dickey slated to start. That would now seem to be a must-win game for Mexico.

Team Mexico, Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo out with groin strain

Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo was supposed to make a spring start for the Brewers on Sunday and then pitch for Mexico against the United States in the World Baseball Classic. The Brewers, though, have scratched him due to a groin tightness, putting his status for the WBC in doubt.

Gallardo’s injury is considered minor. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt that Gallardo will test the groin in a bullpen session Sunday. If he comes through that fine, he’ll be cleared to pitch an inning on Tuesday and then start for Mexico next Friday. However, if he admits to any pain at all, the Brewers could pressure the league to drop him from Mexico’s roster.

“We need to test to be sure he’s 100% before he goes to the Classic,” Roenicke said. “If he’s not ready, he’s not going to pitch in it.”

A Mexico team with Gallardo likely rates as the favorite to advance alongside the U.S. from Pool D. If it has to go without him, it may open the door for Canada to sneak in. Absent Gallardo, Mexico would probably use Marco Estrada, Luis Mendoza and Rodrigo Lopez as its three starters.

Running down the rosters: Chicago Cubs

Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, Marlon Byrd

Forget about 2012 and probably 2013 as well; the Cubs are thinking long-term after luring Theo Epstein from Boston as their new showrunner. This year’s club won’t necessarily be one of the worst in baseball — the pitching depth could help it avoid that fate — but there’s also little in the way of upside until more of the youngsters come along.

Ryan Dempster  -R
Matt Garza – R
Randy Wells – R
Paul Maholm – L
Chris Volstad – R

Carlos Marmol – R
Kerry Wood – R
Jeff Samardzija – R
James Russell – L
Marcos Mateo – R
Andy Sonnanstine – R
Scott Maine – L

SP next in line: Travis Wood (L), Rodrigo Lopez (R), Sonnanstine, Casey Coleman (R)
RP next in line: Chris Carpenter (R), Manuel Corpas (R),  Lendy Castillo (R)(Rule 5), John Gaub (L), Rafael Dolis (R), Casey Weathers (R)

The Cubs have yet to find a Garza trade to their liking, leaving the rotation as the team’s strength. No one from the group aside from Garza stands out, but the team should get reasonable innings from everyone. I have the other five starters projected with ERAs ranging from 4.18 (T. Wood) to 4.42 (Maholm).

The bullpen, on the other hand, will need a bounce-back season from Marmol, a healthy Wood and continued improvement from Samardzija if it’s going to be any good. The last three spots should all be up for grabs. I like Carpenter, but he’s going to have to throw a few more strikes in spring training to claim a spot initially. Castillo, a Rule 5 pick from the Phillies, could be kept and hidden as a mop-up man.

RF David DeJesus – L
SS Starlin Castro – R
CF Marlon Byrd – R
LF Alfonso Soriano – R
1B Bryan LaHair – L
C Geovany Soto – R
3B Ian Stewart – L
2B Darwin Barney – R

C Welington Castillo – R
INF-OF Jeff Baker – R
INF-OF Blake DeWitt – L
OF Reed Johnson – R
OF Tony Campana – L

Next in line: C Steve Clevenger (L), C Jason Jaramillo (S), 1B Anthony Rizzo (L), 2B-3B Adrian Cardenas (L), 3B Josh Vitters (R), INF Matt Tolbert (S), INF Bobby Scales (S), INF-OF Alfredo Amezaga (S), OF Dave Sappelt (R), OF Brett Jackson (L)

The lineup appears set, as the Cubs have made it clear that Rizzo will start off at Triple-A Iowa. It could actually be surprisingly productive if LaHair proves that his 2012 was no fluke and Soto continues his even year-odd year pattern (he had an .868 OPS as a rookie in 2008 and an .890 OPS in 2010).

As for the bench, we’ll have to wait and see what happens to DeWitt. He re-signed for $1.1 million last month, only to be designated for assignment in February. The Cubs could cut him and eat about $200,000, but he’s not such a bad guy to have around. If not DeWitt, then the last spot could go to Tolbert; ideally, someone on the bench would be able to serve as a backup shortstop. As is, Barney is the second option there.

Outside of Castro, no one in the lineup here is a great bet to be on the next contending Cubs team. Byrd and Soto are candidates to be traded this summer. Of course, the same goes for Soriano if he can play well enough to draw a suitor. Ideally, Rizzo, Jackson and maybe even Vitters will occupy lineup spots in the second half the season.

Cubs re-sign Rodrigo Lopez to minor-league contract

Rodrigo Lopez
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Rodrigo Lopez did a decent job in 98 innings for the Cubs last season, posting a 4.42 ERA in 16 starts and 10 relief outings, and he’ll return to Chicago on a minor-league contract.

His deal includes an invitation to spring training, but the 36-year-old right-hander will likely be competing for a long-relief role at most considering the Cubs’ rotation is all but set.

Lopez threw 200 innings for the Rockies in 2010, but that came with a 5.00 ERA and league-high 37 homers allowed. He also served up 18 homers in 98 innings last season, which along with sub par strikeout rates and mediocre control makes him a pretty marginal big leaguer at this point.