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Lopez retires after being reassigned to minor leagues

POSTED: April 2, 2008 5:01 a.m.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Javy Lopez decided to retire Saturday after being reassigned to the Atlanta Braves’ minor league camp.

Jo-Jo Reyes and Brandon Jones were optioned to Triple-A Richmond as the Braves reduced their roster by seven.

The 37-year-old Lopez, attempting a comeback, decided to retire instead of accepting the assignment to the minors. The three-time All-Star catcher hit only .188 this spring in his attempt to become Brian McCann’s backup.

Lopez didn’t play last season after he was cut by the Colorado Rockies last spring.

He signed a minor league deal in December with Atlanta, where he played from 1992-2003.

“It didn’t happen in spring training,” Lopez said. “This is the only chance I get. They give me the opportunity to come back and prove to myself that I can still play. I had the chance and didn’t do what I’m supposed to do, or at least not good enough.”

Lopez met with manager Bobby Cox, who said he hoped Lopez would continue his comeback in the minors and “get some at-bats and see what happens.”

Lopez said he feels good but was not satisfied with his hitting and his inability to throw out baserunners.
Lopez hit a couple of balls hard and was 1-for-5 as the designated hitter against Cleveland on Friday. He drove in a run with a first-inning single off C.C. Sabathia.

“I feel perfect physically,” Lopez said. “It’s just that the hitting wasn’t there and unfortunately I didn’t throw the guy out on the stealing attempts. That’s a concern. I don’t blame them. My role as a backup catcher is to be able to throw every single runner out.”

Lopez is a career .287 hitter with 260 home runs and 864 RBIs. He was an All-Star with the Braves in 1997, 1998 and 2003.

His best year was 2003, when he hit .328 with 43 homers and drove in 109 runs, becoming only the third catcher in history with 40 homers, 100 RBIs and a .300 batting average. Lopez signed with Baltimore in 2004. He spent part of the 2006 season with Boston.

Other catchers still competing for possibly one backup spot are Brayan Pena, Clint Sammons and Corky Miller.

The Braves also reassigned pitchers Francisley Bueno, Jorge Campillo and Ryan Drese to Richmond and outfielder Jordan Schafer to Double-A Mississippi.

Reyes had a 9.82 ERA in four spring games. The return of Mike Hampton left Reyes competing with Chuck James, Jair Jurrjens and others for possibly one open spot in the rotation.

Reyes was 2-2 with a 6.22 ERA in 11 games, including 10 starts, with Atlanta as a rookie last season.




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