2/28 Lopez eager to start
Rodrigo Lopez was “flattered” to be told he’ll be starting the Cubs first Cactus League game Sunday against the Athletics.
“It’s nice knowing they have plans for me and want me to start a few games,” Lopez said Tuesday. “Everybody’s excited to go out there and play and everybody wants to play in the first one. I was lucky, probably to start, the first one. It makes me feel good and I’ll go out there and do my best.”
Last season, Lopez was 6-6 in 26 games with a 4.42 ERA, including a 6-5 mark and 4.50 ERA in 16 starts. He’s gotten a huge assist this spring from former Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe who was Lopez’s coach in rookie ball. Sutcliffe, who is in Cubs camp until March 10, suggested some changes in Lopez’s grip and thinking more about finishing his pitches.
“I feel good about it and can’t wait to use it in the game,” Lopez said of the changes.
The Cubs are still sorting out the rotation. So far, Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Paul Maholm are set with Lopez, Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, and Jeff Samardzija competing for the other spots. Lopez, 36, a non-roster invitee, could’ve easily been inserted into a game in the sixth inning but instead will start Sunday.
“I’m flattered,” Lopez said. “I’m here for a reason. They put me in the first game. That tells me they want to see me and they want to give me a good look.”
— Carrie Muskat