Rodrigo Lopez Named Fourth Starter

Rodrigo Lopez Named Fourth Starter

Despite having made only five major league starts in the past two years and 19 in the past three, 34-year old Rodrigo Lopez finds himself as the number four starter in the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation. Lopez outpitched Billy Buckner and Kevin Mulvey, who were optioned to Triple-A last night.

Rodrigo Lopez has a career ERA of 4.82 in 1,046.2 career innings.  He enjoyed three excellent seasons with the Baltimore Orioles in 2002, 2004, and 2005, combining to go 44-30 with a 4.06 ERA.  Since the end of 2005, however, Lopez is 17-23 with a 5.49 ERA.

There's no denying the Lopez has outpitched Billy Buckner and Kevin Mulvey, his main competition for the rotation spot, all spring.  Lopez has a 2.35 spring ERA, along with 12 strikeouts to just three walks in 15.1 innings.  Mulvey went 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA and seven walks in 9.2 innings while Buckner allowed a team-high four homers and had a 10.13 ERA before the pair were optioned to Triple-A Reno.

The D-backs will use a four-man rotation until April 17, when manager A.J. Hinch will turn to whatever pitcher has impressed the most at Reno.

"We have a lot of choices for the fifth starter," Hinch said, citing Mulvey, Buckner, Kris Benson, and Bryan Augenstein as candidates.  "We'll make that [decision] when we have to."

Lopez is not currently on the D-backs' 40-man roster, so one player who is will need to be removed from it and exposed to waivers in order to accommodate the veteran.

Also, outfielder Cole Gillespie, first baseman Brandon Allen, and catcher Sean Coughlin have all been moved to minor league camp after making excellent impressions this spring.

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