After hitting .360 between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville the Cincinnati Reds called up infielder Alejo Lopez on Monday morning to join the big league club.
“Childhood dream come true,” said Lopez prior to the game. “A lot of emotions going on – a lot that I can’t explain right now. Very thrilled, very excited to get out there and play baseball.”
When the lineup was released on Monday afternoon, Alejo Lopez wasn’t in the lineup. That’s not unprecedented. Many managers will let a guy have that first day in the big leagues get acclimated in the clubhouse, in the dugout during the game, and just allow them to take things in for a bit. The Reds did that with Tony Santillan earlier this month when they officially called him up a day before his debut so he could take the game in from the dugout and have that experience before actually getting on the field.
With the Reds trailing 4-2 in the 7th inning David Bell went to the bench to call on Alejo Lopez for his Major League debut to pinch hit for Mike Freeman. Phillies pitcher Bailey Falter threw a 1st pitch slider to Lopez and he did exactly what he has been doing all year – lined a single into the outfield grass.
That single started a rally that culminated in Nick Castellanos hitting a go-ahead grand slam later in the inning with Lopez scoring one of those runs. Cincinnati piled on after that, scoring six more runs in the 8th inning. Lopez didn’t get in the field as he was simply used as a pinch hitter on the night.
“When that ball dropped, a lot of pressure just released off of my shoulders, so that was nice,” Lopez said after the game. “They say the 1st one is always the hardest one and then you can go ahead and do your thing. So I just really wanted it and anything over the plate I was swinging.”
The Reds are welcoming in the San Diego Padres tonight. But that’s not the only guests they’ll have – Alejo Lopez said that his parents would be in for the game on Tuesday night (they were not in Cincinnati on Monday). While that doesn’t guarantee that he will get his name written onto the lineup card, it’s usually something managers will find a way to make happen. Exactly where he’ll play is a bit of a bigger question, particularly with a lefty on the mound for San Diego which could make it a bit tougher to sit a right-handed bat. As was speculated yesterday, though, perhaps Lopez can play some third base with Eugenio Suárez moving back to shortstop. We’ll find out in a few hours.