07/16/09 7:15 PM ET
Lopez set to start for Phillies on Monday
Righty had left previous outing with shoulder inflammation
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
The 33-year-old came out of his outing last Wednesday after five innings because of right shoulder inflammation, but he played catch Thursday, will throw his regularly scheduled bullpen Saturday and said it's all systems go for the opener of a three-game home series against the Cubs.
But there's another situation that isn't very clear.
That has to do with Lopez's spot as the team's fifth starter, which is in serious jeopardy with the acquisition of veteran Pedro Martinez on Wednesday. Lopez is the latest in what has been a revolving door at the back end of Philadelphia's rotation, but in his two starts, the journeyman from Mexico has pitched relatively well -- giving up four runs in 11 1/3 innings in two Phillies wins.
The soonest Martinez can start pitching for his new team is July 30, meaning Lopez -- if he stays healthy and keeps pitching effectively -- would at least get two more stars, and most likely three.
So right now, he's not worried about the future, which could include a move to the bullpen or being designated for assignment.
"I don't know what's going to happen, and I don't want to worry about that," Lopez said. "I just want to go day by day and just stay with the Phillies, and if I can help them, I will try to.
"Whatever happens, I think it's something I can't control. But trying to pitch good and being healthy, that's the thing I can control."
In eight years in the big leagues, Lopez sports a 4.78 ERA, and in 26 career games out of the bullpen, his ERA is 2.95. Lopez said he wouldn't have a problem being a reliever, and he's happy to have a guy like Martinez on board.
"It's good to have him around," said Lopez, who added that he looked up to Martinez when he first arrived in the big leagues with the Orioles. "Honestly, I'm not the kind of guy to follow or read much in the papers. I have enough to worry [about] with my career, with my situation, to get more things in my head.
"I can't control about Pedro or [Carlos] Carrasco, or whatever is going on around. It's just enjoying to be here, and hopefully I can be here the remainder of my career."
Manager Charlie Manuel said Lopez's future role hasn't been discussed yet, and any talk about his No. 5 starter being taken out of the rotation is premature.
"There's no sense in us really talking about that until Pedro is ready to go," Manuel said.
"I want Lopez to go out there and keep pitching the way he's been pitching. I don't want any one of those guys thinking about it's going to be them. Pitch, [then we'll] see what happens."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.