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News » Arizona Diamondbacks Inside Pitch 2008-12-24

Arizona Diamondbacks Inside Pitch 2008-12-24

Arizona Diamondbacks Inside Pitch 2008-12-24
New second baseman Felipe Lopez appears to be an awful lot like original Diamondback Jay Bell if statistics from the early stages of their careers can be believed.

Lopez and Bell have almost identical production numbers through their first eight pro seasons. Their slugging percentages are an identical .395, and Bell has a slight edge in RBIs (335-334), batting average (.268-.262) and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.732-.725). The sample includes 933 games for Bell and 873 for Lopez.

The two have more in common -- each was the eighth player taken in the June draft out of a Florida high school, Bell in 1984 by Minnesota and Lopez in 1998 by Toronto.

Bell made a splash when signed by the D-backs as a free agent in 1997, the day before the expansion draft to stock Arizona and Tampa Bay. Bell played shortstop most of that season before moving to second base and was an integral member of the team in its early success, scoring the winning run in the 2001 World Series.

Lopez, 28, signed a $3.5 million contract to replace free agent 2B Orlando Hudson, although his one-year deal makes it unlikely he will have as much of a long-term impact as Bell or Hudson (two Gold Gloves in three years).

"It was kind of a no-brainer," said Lopez, who played with Washington and St. Louis last season. "This team is young and has a lot of positive stuff going on. I just want to win. That's the main goal."

Lopez had his best season as Cincinnati's starting shortstop in 2005, when he won the NL Silver Slugger Award by hitting .291 with 34 doubles, 23 home runs and 85 RBIs. He had less success after being traded to Washington in 2006, going from a severe hitters' park in Cincinnati to a severe pitchers' park at RFK Stadium. He was eventually phased out by the Nationals and was released in July.

Lopez rebounded to hit .385 with St. Louis in the final two months of 2008, padding his average by going 16-for-31 against the D-backs. Only Manny Ramirez (.396) had a higher average in the NL the last two months.

"I wasn't getting a lot of playing time over there in Washington," Lopez said. "They are a new franchise, and they are still trying to figure things out. I was not the right fit for that team. It was a good thing for the club to let me go. They were kind of holding me back."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 24, 2008

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