Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Veteran Felipe Lopez thrilled to get call to join Tampa Bay Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Felipe Lopez was preparing to drive from Port Charlotte to his Orlando-area home Sunday then fly on to Durham, N.C., tonight to open his first season at Triple A in seven years.

But then Evan Longoria got hurt, and Lopez was instead headed to Tropicana Field, pulling in in time to pull on his new Rays uniform and pinch-hit in the ninth inning Sunday, with the potential for platoon duty replacing Longoria at third base.

"I'm definitely happy to be in the big leagues," Lopez said. "It's pretty awesome. This game is unbelievable. That's why you never give up."

A veteran of 10 big-league seasons, Lopez, 30, signed a minor-league deal with the Rays and, having lost out to Elliot Johnson for the utility infield job, was headed to Durham.

"I was going to be okay either way," he said. "I'm in a good place personally and mentally, so no matter what, wherever I went, it takes hard work and dedication."

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rays designated for assignment RHP Mike Ekstrom.

TURF TALK: Johnny Damon said the right calf tightness that forced him to be scratched from Sunday's lineup could be due to playing the first two games on the Tropicana Field AstroTurf.

"I woke up at 7 … and my right calf felt tight," he said. "I don't know what it was from. Maybe it's from the turf, I don't know."

Damon, 37, said he had no issues Friday or Saturday, when he played leftfield (and one inning at first). He was treated Sunday and though he was still sore, he expected to be ready to play Tuesday against the Angels.

Damon was signed to play leftfield, so he said there isn't much he can do if the soreness is related to the turf. "Right now I'm saying no, I hope it's not an issue ongoing," Damon said. "And it better not be an issue ongoing."

STEPPING IN: When Damon was scratched, Sam Fuld moved from rightfield to left, and he left quite an impression with several great defensive plays.

"He was pretty spectacular," Damon said.

In the first, Fuld raced into foul territory in chase of a Nick Markakis fly ball and tripped over the bullpen mound before making a sliding/falling catch. "I knew it was coming," Fuld said of the mound. "But it still didn't prevent me from face-planting." Fuld also threw out SS J.J. Hardy at home on a one-hopper to end the top of the seventh.

FOR FIRSTS: Johnson collected his first major-league RBI in a unique way, laying down a bunt single with one out in the third to score Matt Joyce from third base. Last season, the Rays had nine RBIs as a result of bunts, tops in the majors.

MINOR MATTERS: As expected, the Rays sent SS Tim Beckham to Double-A Montgomery, as well as RHPs Matt Bush and Chris Archer, LHP Matt Moore and C Nevin Ashley. In Triple-A Durham, there will be top position prospect OF Desmond Jennings, with OF Justin Ruggiano and 1B Casey Kotchman, as well as Robinson Chirinos and Jose Lobaton splitting time at catcher.

MISCELLANY: The Rays hadn't been swept by the Orioles at home since 2005. … CF B.J. Upton went 1-for-4 with a double, making him the only Rays player to collect a hit in all three games. … The Rays are off today, with no workouts scheduled.

Veteran Felipe Lopez thrilled to get call to join Tampa Bay Rays 04/03/11 [Last modified: Sunday, April 3, 2011 9:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh


    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. LSU's Paul Mainieri defends FSU's Mike Martin; Gators play Friday


    OMAHA, Neb. — LSU coach Paul Mainieri says whether Florida State's Mike Martin ever wins a national championship should have no bearing on how his long career in college baseball is judged.

    MADE IT: Josh Watson beats the tag of Louisville catcher Colby Fitch during TCU’s 4-3 win in the College World Series.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101