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Is Masahiro Tanaka The Next Young International Superstar Pitcher?

Mashahiro Tanaka was 24 - 0, with a 1.27 ERA in with his team in the NPBL last year.  He has followed countrymen Yu Darvish, Hiroki Kuroda and of course the 1st man from Japan, Hideo Nomo as superstars to take their talents to North America.

Mashahiro Tanaka was 24 – 0, with a 1.27 ERA in with his team in the NPBL last year. He has followed countrymen Yu Darvish, Hiroki Kuroda and of course the 1st man from Japan, Hideo Nomo as superstars to take their talents to North America.  Tanaka has pitched with the whole world watching him, as part of the 2013 WBC team for Japan.  He will be counted on at the top of the New York Yankees rotation for years to come.  Fans in New York can only pray this guy is much more like the guys aforementioned in this caption – rather than former Yankees Starting Pitcher Kei Igawa, who never panned out in his time with New York.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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Today we are talking about young International Phenom pitchers.  I picked 5 former and current pitchers that hailed from other places other than the USA to concentrate the story on. 

I came up with Fernando Valenzuela from Mexico, Hideo Nomo and Yu Darvish from Japan, Eric Gagne from Canada and Juan Marichal from the Dominican Republic. 

The 5 baseball players all flashed onto the scene as young pitchers, 3 of them dominating their peers from the get go. 

Eric Gagne, the 5th member of this study, only started to dominate when the Los Angeles Dodgers sent him to the bullpen.  

Speaking of the Los Angeles Dodgers, three of these five pitchers were both with the club when they started out.  It is a credit to their scouting staff. 

There is a reason why no other team has turned out more ‘Rookie of the Year’ players in the last 30 years than the Dodgers.

Hideo Nomo’s No – Hitter Game

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There is A Major Problem At MLB.com With Their Active Players List: Part 1

Bobby Abreu was traded for Kevin Stocker and had 7 straight 20 HR/20 SB seasons for the Phillies from 1999-2005.  A player the franchise wish never got away.  He did not play for any other club in 2013, but has since said he plans to make a comeback in 2014.  If he does, he would become the active ALL - Time Leader for Doubles in the MLB.

Bobby Abreu was traded from the Rays to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker and had 7 straight 20 HR/20 SB seasons for the ‘Fightins from 1999 – 2005. After playing for both of the LA clubs in 2012,  he did not play for any other club in 2013, but has since said he plans to make a comeback in 2014. If he does, he would become the active ALL – Time Leader for Doubles in the MLB.  After seeing that the website mlb.com called him active, I investigated a massive flaw.

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer): 

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When starting to compile a list at http://www.mlb.com  of current Extra Base Hits Leaders – I was unimpressed about the slowness of the webmasters.

I love the MLB, and the coverage/video highlights is fantastic at the site.  Their updating the stat leaders for active players needs to be seriously addressed. so the top 10 list will be posted tomorrow instead.

Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez and Todd Helton are on this list.

Okay,  I can give them a slight pass on Helton, however he has filed his retirement papers already, but Pudge and Man-Ram – c’mon.

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A Tribute To Milwaukee Brewers Great Teddy Higuera

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Monday January 14th, 2013

Teddy Higuera finished 2nd In Rookie Of The Year Voting in 1985.  He then followed that up by placing 2nd and 6th in AL Cy Young Voting in 1986 and 1987 respectively.

Teddy Higuera finished 2nd In Rookie Of The Year Voting in 1985, with a 15-8 Season for Milwaukee. He then followed that up by placing 2nd and 6th in AL Cy Young Voting in 1986 and 1987 respectively.

By Ben Dobson ( Brewers Correspondent):

Teodoro Valenzuela Higuera  (born November 9th, 1958 in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico) was an All-Star Starting Pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers during the mid 80′s to early 90′s. Teodoro, better known as ‘Teddy”, began his career with the Brewers in 1983, when his contract was purchased from Indios de Ciudad of the Mexican League. Higuera spent a year in the Minor League’s before making his debut on April 23, 1985 at Comiskey Park in Chicago. In front of a massive crowd, (10,719 maybe not massive) Teddy produced the following line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO.

Pretty solid start to his rookie campaign. Higuera lost his first two career starts to the Tigers and White Sox before picking up his first win on May 3 at the California Angels. The Lefty pitched a Complete Game allowing, only 4 hits – en route to a Shutout performance. Higuera then had an amazing 2nd half to his Rookie season, going 11-3 in July, August, September and October combined. The season was stellar enough to place him 2nd in Rookie of the Year Voting – just behind Ozzie Guillen. Taking a look at Higuera’s Year by Year Statistics – it makes one wonder why he was only considered for (1) AL MVP Award and how he only made (1) Career All-Star Game Appearance?

MLB Bloopers:  Teddy Higuera Milks a Cow!

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Karim Garcia Interview: Working My Way Back to the Big Leagues – From Mexico With Baseball Love

Monday May 21st, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Today we are in for a treat folks. One of my all-time baseball faves is our feature on the Reports. The man needs no introduction in baseball circles. He can flat-out play the game. Karim Garcia. The man has played ball in New York. Los Angeles. Cleveland. Arizona. Korea. Japan. Mexico. World Baseball Classic. The man has done it all…and seen it all. After making his major league debut with the Dodgers as a raw 19-year old, Karim went on to play for 7 MLB teams over 10 seasons. His best statistical season came in 2002, as Karim belted 16 home runs playing mostly for the Indians, with a .297 AVG and .574 SLG. The fact that he was able to produce those numbers in only 53 games played shows his strong hitting potential. Watching him play, it was always obvious that Karim Garcia could hit. He just needed the opportunity to play. 

Therein lies the unfairness of baseball. It can be a cruel and unforgiving sport. Karim played 113 games with the Diamondbacks in 1998 and 96 games with the Tigers the following season. Despite his hitting abilities, Major League Baseball never game him the opportunity to play a full season. To show what he can do with a full year’s worth of at-bats. Few can understand how difficult it can be to play sparingly off the bench unless you have done it. Karim Garcia has done it. He did it for a decade in the show. Despite knowing he could star and not receiving that chance- he persevered. Karim Garcia came back to the big leagues, with different teams year after year, to prove himself. To play the game he loves and to play the only way he knows how. Hard. When the opportunities in North America did not present themselves, Karim Garcia did not give up. Far from it. Over the last 8 years, Karim Garcia has been travelling the globe to play baseball. Korea. Japan. His native Mexico. Wherever he can find a high level of competition and the opportunity to play ball, Karim has taken it. He doesn’t play for the money. He doesn’t play for the glory. Karim Garcia is playing ball for the simple love of the sport.

Karim’s glory moments came as part of the recent 2009 World Baseball Classic. The man was playing in the tournament like his hair was on fire. The intensity. The passion. Every big game. Every big at-bat. If it involved team Mexico, you knew that Karim Garcia was involved. The undisputed leader for his country, Karim showed at the plate and the field that the magic burned strongly within him. Yet despite a strong WBC showing, the majors did not come calling. With the 2012 season upon us, I see many MLB teams missing the intangibles. The veteran presence. The key bat off the bench. Those types of players are the difference between a contender and a champion. What does the modern game need you ask? More players like Karim Garcia.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Karim, as he currently plays in the Mexican league. Karim is playing baseball for one reason, and one reason only. To return to the show. To return to where he started…and where he belongs. It is impossible to turn back the hands of time and unfortunately Karim will never get back the chance to play full-time in his 20′s in the majors. But Karim is not looking to change the past. He has no regrets. The Karim I spoke to is only looking to the future. Before his playing career is done and he looks towards his next mission of managing, he wants to make it back to North America. Back to playing Major League Baseball. Karim is ready to help a team to a championship. With all of years and experiences in the game, that chance should be there. It needs to be there. Karim intends to make it happen.

As part of our conversation, Karim and I discussed all aspects of his career. From making his MLB debut, to the trades, baseball travels, WBC and his future. Just like his play on the field, Karim was straight in the interview. Not holding back. Giving it all. Giving the straight goods. The Karim Garcia I spoke to was just like the one I watch on the baseball field. Passionate. Determined. Intense. Now ready to return to North America, I am proud to present my interview with Karim Garcia. Get ready to see the sides of Karim Garcia that you may have never seen. Might have never known. You know the name and the player. Now get ready to meet the man. The man who loves the game of baseball with every ounce of his being. Karim Garcia is today’s featured interview on MLB reports:

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Is Yu Darvish the Next Young International Baseball Superstar?


Monday, February 13th, 2012

Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth (Baseball Writer)- One of the first names I forgot in my blog about ‘young phenom pitchers’ taking the league, plus a city by storm was Fernando Valenzuela.  I immediately thought of another blog right after.  That is young International Phenom pitchers.  I picked 4 pitchers that hail from other places other than the USA to concentrate the story on.  I came up with Valenzuela from Mexico, Hideo Nomo from Japan, Eric Gagne from Canada and Juan Marichal from the Dominican Republic.  The 4 baseball players all flashed onto the scene as young pitchers, 3 of them dominating their peers from the get go.  Eric Gagne, the 4th member of this study, only started to dominate when the Los Angeles Dodgers sent him to the bullpen.   Speaking of the Los Angeles Dodgers, three of these four pitchers were both with the club when they started out.  It is a credit to their scouting staff.  There is a reason why no other team has turned out more ‘Rookie of the Year’ players in the last 30 years than the Dodgers. (more…)

Steve Palazzolo Interview: The Pitching Tower of Pisa

Sunday January 15, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  When I first spoke with Steve Palazzolo, I was blown away by his stature. How could you not be…the man stands 6’10″ and throws baseballs for a living! The first images that went through my mind were Jon Rauch and Randy Johnson. Comparisons that I am sure Steve has heard his whole life. But once you get past the sheer size of the man, you find a person with an even bigger heart. A gentle giant, Steve is very well spoken and intelligent to converse with. With the shortage of quality arms in today’s major league bullpens, one would expect that available arms would be snapped up in a second. But that is not always the case, especially for Steve Palazzolo. He pitched five seasons in the minor leagues, between the Brewers, Giants and Mariners organizations. He made it all the way up to AAA before returning to Indy ball the past season and a half. Steve will be 30 by opening day and continues to battle his  way to achieve his dream: making the big leagues. As we discussed in yesterday’s interview with Luis Lopez, Jerome Williams made his way from Indy ball to the Angels rotation last year. Dreams do come true. Steve Palazzolo has shown that he has the talent. Taking a look at his numbers from last year, Palazzolo pitched 53 games for the Blue Crabs- finishing with a 9-5 record, 3.06 ERA and 1.200 WHIP.  He only surrendered 4 home runs while striking out 57 batters. Watching him on video and considering his talents and strong character, I would be snapping this guy up pretty quickly if I was a baseball General Manager. To succeed in baseball, you need to have talent and a chance. Steve Palazzolo has the talent.  Now he is just waiting for his opportunity.

Today on MLB reports, we are proud to present pitcher Steve Palazzolo- or as we refer to him:  The Pitching Tower of Pisa

MLB reports:  First question:  Steve.  Palazzolo is an interesting last name.  Meaning and origins?

Steve Palazzolo:  It comes from the Italian word Palazzo, which means palace.   There is also a village in Sicily named Palazzolo. I’d definitely love to visit some day.


MLB reports:  Everyone reading your profile would see: 6’10″, 29-years-old and a right-handed reliever.  On paper you should be in a major league bullpen.  What is your current active status?

Steve Palazzolo:  Current active status is “trying to join a major league bullpen.”  Really, though, I’ve spent the last year and a half in the Atlantic League with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, just continuing to learn and get better. It’s definitely a never-ending process in baseball, and I’ve spent the last couple years adding different pitches and arm angles, while also learning different ways to attack hitters.

I’m also looking at a possible opportunity to play in Japan, so we’ll see how it all plays out.


MLB reports:  We last saw you playing for AAA Tacoma in 2010.  Since then you have been playing Indy ball.  What led you back to playing Indy?  What are the differences between Indy and playing in the minor leagues?

Steve Palazzolo:  I was sent back to Indy ball in what I viewed as a three-way trade. Back in July 2010, it went something like this:

Rangers Get: Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe

Mariners Get: Blake Beaven, Justin Smoak, Josh Lueke, Matt Lawson

Blue Crabs Get: Steve Palazzolo

OK, so the Cliff Lee deal brought in a few minor league pitchers and I got the axe.

I’d say the main difference in Indy ball is the organizational structure. There is no class level, so you’re not really worried about moving up or being sent down. Just go out and do your job and do it for the team. I’d say my Indy teams have been the most closely knit teams I’ve ever been on. It’s usually the same core of guys for the entire year, and everyone wants to get back to affiliated ball, but there is a definite emphasis on winning as a team. Not to say that affiliated teams can’t be close, but there is a lot more player movement that tends to disrupt team chemistry throughout the year.

 

MLB reports:  You have played in the Brewers, Giants and Mariners systems.  Tell us about the best teams that you pitched for in your professional career.

Steve Palazzolo:  As far as talent goes, the 2009 Fresno Grizzlies are near the top. Our overall record doesn’t show it, but with about three weeks to go in the season, we had the second best record in the Pacific Coast League but we were 14 games out of first place behind Sacramento.

Bullpen wise, the 2008 Connecticut Defenders was probably the most talented I’ve been a part of. We had a number of pitchers who went on to have some big league success, most notably Sergio Romo who was closing for us.

If we’re talking clubhouse unity, I mentioned the Indy teams, but the 2010 Tacoma bullpen will always hold a special place for me. Even though I was only there a short period of time, we had an outstanding group of guys who genuinely cared for each other and did a great job of staying entertained for the first five innings of every game (always an important in the bullpen).

 

MLB reports:  What are your goals going into the 2012 season?  

Steve Palazzolo:  First to marry the love of my life, and best friend, Kelley Donoghue (she is looking over my shoulder as I type).  Simple answer is to pitch to the best of my ability, regardless of where I’m playing.


MLB reports:  You were signed as a free agent by the Brewers as your first organization in 2006.  Tell us about the process in joining Milwaukee.

Steve Palazzolo:  Pretty fun story actually. I had just finished my second professional season with the Worcester Tornadoes and was sitting at my computer on a Thursday in late January when I received an email from my good friend, Will Carroll. He forwarded me an email from a Brewers scout that referenced an invitation-only tryout at their spring training complex that Saturday. Will mentioned how it was unfortunate that I was not in Arizona. I emailed him back with the title, “Last Minute Trip to Arizona?” Will sent the request back to the Brewers scout who agreed that if I could get to Arizona, I would be welcome to try out. I immediately booked a flight for Friday and made the workout on Saturday. At the workout, they suggested I mix in a couple different arm angles (which I’d experimented with before) and as it turns out, I was one of only two guys signed that day.

 

MLB reports:  Given your size, most people would think that you would be a power pitcher.  How would you describe yourself as a pitcher and tell us about what you throw.

Steve Palazzolo:  I wouldn’t say power pitcher, but I do think my height gives me a big advantage and helps all of my stuff to play a little better. I throw a 4 seam fastball, slider, splitter and I just added a new changeup. My change is interesting as I started to experiment with it toward the end of last year, and I may have found a really good grip that I will stick with for good, possibly even replacing the splitter. As I mentioned, I’ve also experimented with a number of different arm angles, so I’m always mixing it up.


MLB reports:  Every baseball player works towards making the big leagues.  What do you need to do in order to achieve that dream?

Steve Palazzolo:  At this point in my career, or anyone’s career for that matter, the phrase you hear is “right place, right time.” Pitchers mature and figure things out at various times in their careers so that’s why I’m constantly looking to improve. I think I just need another shot to play in Double or Triple A, then it’s all about pitching well. Pitch well, and if it matches up with a situation where the big league team needs a pitcher, then it can happen. I know this: I’m confident in my abilities to pitch successfully in the big leagues, it’s simply a matter of continuing to improve while also getting an opportunity.

 

MLB reports:  If you weren’t playing baseball today- what would you be doing?

Steve Palazzolo:  I’d probably be a pitching coach, and that’s what I do all offseason. On my long road through the minors, I used myself as my own science (pitching) experiment. It’s been a constant process of trial and error, and I’ve learned so much along the way. So my plan is to coach, while also developing my own business as a pitching coach. I have a couple of blog posts up at www.stevepalazzolopitching.wordpress.com, but I have to get better putting up more consistent material.

I’m also an analyst and writer for www.profootballfocus.com. Just started this year, and it’s been a lot of fun breaking down the NFL.


MLB reports:  Looking back at your career to-date, would you have done anything different?

Steve Palazzolo:  I do remember a hanging slider I threw in 2008 that went for a home run. I should have thrown a fastball.

Really though, I made the decision early in my career to put everything I had into it, and I’ve been very blessed along the way. No major regrets.


MLB reports:  When you think of your expectations going into professional baseball, what are some of the biggest surprises you have encountered?

Steve Palazzolo:  This is a tough question. Making me think here. As a kid, expectations are always glamorous. Everyone wants to be like their TV heroes, but when I entered pro ball, I already knew that it was a difficult grind. Not sure I can think of any major surprises, but I will mention the one thing I appreciate and that’s the uniqueness of everyone in the game. Players coming from all walks of life, all over the world, unified by the game of baseball. It’s really amazing to think of the people I’ve met along the way.


MLB reports:  Choice of cleats and glove- what brands do you use?

Steve Palazzolo:  Nike cleats and Spalding glove. If and when I hit, always Franklin batting gloves.


MLB reports:  Given your height, how do you find clothes shopping?

Steve Palazzolo:  It’s difficult. There are a few stores that carry big sizes, but I have to do a lot of my shopping online. The Big and Tall store is better for wide rather than tall, so a lot of the stuff is just way too big.


MLB reports:  Which past or present MLB players would you most compare yourself to?  Are either Randy Johnson or Jon Rauch a close comparison?

Steve Palazzolo:  Kenny Powers. Actually, he stole my look. I’ve been rocking the mustache and long hair since ’06.

I really try to take something from everyone, whether it’s Randy Johnson or Tim Lincecum. As far as comparisons, Johnson isn’t great because he was such a hard thrower. Rauch is an OK comparison, but he has a higher arm slot than me.

The one pitcher I’ve seen who compares favorably is Kameron Loe from the Brewers. We’re not identical, but our natural arm slot is similar. He’s 6’8” tall and also likes to mix up arm angles so I can relate to his style a bit.


MLB reports:  We discussed the potential of you heading to Japan.  What are your thoughts on heading to the far east?

Steve Palazzolo:  It would be a great opportunity. The competition is great and I’ve seen a lot of pitchers who have gone there and then come back to the states as better pitchers. It’s a different style in Japan, and I think the hitters force each pitcher to use his entire repertoire. Even though the culture change would be difficult, I’m hoping I get the chance to play there.


MLB reports:  Last question:  to a young pitcher in school just starting out, what advice would you give them?

Steve Palazzolo:  Work hard, work smart. I don’t think the grammar is correct on that statement, but I think it gets the point across. Anyway, pitching is a lot more than throwing a ball to a target (or is it?). Preparation is extremely important, and when I work with young pitchers, I like to break it down into four main areas: mechanics, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and mental approach. Oh and it’s important to have fun while doing it. The best players love the preparation.

***Thank you to Steve Palazzolo for taking the time out of his offseason training to speak with us today on MLB reports!  You can follow Luis on Twitter (@Palo50). Steve loves interacting with his fans, so please feel free to send him any questions/comments you have.  Or just wish him good luck on the season, as he would appreciate your support!***

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Luis Lopez Interview: The Real Life Crash Davis of Baseball Worldwide

Saturday January 14, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The numbers are outstanding.  Six Most Valuable Player awards.  An All-Star seven times.  Over 2000 hits.  Over 1000 RBIs.  A minor league hall of famer for sure, Luis Lopez has been playing this game his whole life. He has done it and seen it all.  He played in the majors with both the Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Expos.  Played in the minors for four different MLB organizations.  Luis has played in both Japan and Mexico. Indy ball. His baseball resume is quite extensive, as are his passport stamps. But at the age of 38, Luis is far from done. He still plays third and first, searching for his chance to make it back to the show. He has strong inspirations to keep him going. Julio Franco played in the major leagues until the age of 49! Even Jerome Williams, at the tender age of 30 provides hope. Away from the big leagues for four seasons, he rose up from Indy ball and back to the Bigs. Luis knows this and keeps the hope deep in his heart as he continues his baseball grind. One of the greatest baseball stories I have heard, Luis Lopez is a true blue-collar baseball player. He is everything that the game is about and a true credit to the sport. Going into his 18th professional season, Luis Lopez is still laughing and having a great time. He just plain loves baseball and will continue to do so for as long as he can.

On his road back to the Major Leagues, we are proud to feature our interview with the real life Crash Davis- Luis Lopez: 

MLB reports:  First question:  On my count, there are three professional ballplayers named Luis Lopez. Why the popularity of the name? How often do you get mistaken for one of the other ones?

Luis Lopez:  I get mistaken all the time. Their cards are sent to me to sign and I’m pretty sure mine to them. The worst part is in the airports flying out of the country. I’m asked to the little room every time for extra screening (laughs). My wife thinks I’m a delinquent cause it happens so often! (laughs harder)

 

MLB reports:  Born in Brooklyn, New York.  A baseball hot bed!  What is your family’s origins? Do you have roots in New York?

Luis Lopez:  My family is from Puerto Rico. My dad from Dorado and my mom from Ponce. I considered myself from PR as well even though I wasn’t born there. I was born in NYC. I’m glad I was because it gave me the drive and desire to think that I will make it!

 

MLB reports:  You originally signed with the Jays in 1996 and made your professional debut in 2001.  Tell us about your first major league game.

Luis Lopez:  (laughter fills the room) Funny you ask. My first at-bat was against the Angels in Toronto. Bengie Molina was catching and I knew him from all my years playing winter ball in PR. He was talking to the pitcher Holtz and then walked back to the plate. He says in Spanish congrats Luis. I said “thanks brother, my heart about to come through my shirt.” (Grin) Delgado and a bunch of the guys had their hands in their shirts showing me how my heart was pounding! Then Bengie says “relax, we’re gonna put you on so you will hit tomorrow.” I said “what?” All of a sudden I was being intentionally walked! All I could think then was that I would be one an answer to a trivia question! (laughs hard) Not too many people on their first at-bat are walked intentionally!


MLB reports:  We last saw you playing in the big leagues for the Expos in 2004- the last year of the franchise. Ironic? If the Expos come back, will you come back with them?

Luis Lopez:  Would love to!

 

MLB reports:  You have played in the Jays, Expos, A’s and Braves systems.  Tell us about the best minor league teams that you played for in your professional career.

Luis Lopez:  That’s tough because I learned how to play ball the right way in the Blue Jays system! They broke down everything for me. With the A’s, we won championships. Atlanta is a big league organization. They treated me like I was with them forever.


MLB reports:  In recent years I have you played in the Mexican league, Japan and Indy ball.  You are a baseball nomad!!!  What was the process like going to Mexico and Japan? What were each of those experiences like?

Luis Lopez:  After being around so long, my name is around. A lot of the time it is reports or videos that are seen and then reps get in touch with you. A phone call or e-mail usually. Baseball is baseball. You just have to get used to living in another country that’s all. That’s the biggest problem for some guys; but I can live anywhere.


MLB reports:  What are your goals going into the 2012 season?

Luis Lopez:  To stay healthy and win a championship! I’ve accomplished a lot of personal goals throughout my career. I just want to produce and help my team win!

 

MLB reports:  At 38-years of age, you have seen it all and done it all.  Why do you keep going- what motivates you?

Luis Lopez:  I love the competition! I feel like I still can play in the big leagues and help a team win- even one with only a little chance. I want all of my family to see me play again in a big league stadium. Especially my mom! Every time she came to see me play, I would get sent down that day. It was crazy!


MLB reports:  You and I talked a lot about Julio Franco.  How much of an inspiration is he to you?  Do you plan to play until you are 50?

Luis Lopez:  He inspires me a lot! Julio made it back at an age MUCH older than me because someone gave him a chance again. That’s all I want- a chance! If I couldn’t do it anymore, I would walk away; but I know I still have it. The mindset! (laughs) 50? Wow! Nah I don’t see that. Only God knows!


MLB reports:  Favorite position to play:  1B, 3B or any others?

Luis Lopez:  I love playing 3rd. Still play it. But I will play wherever to get a chance. I just want to hit! (big smile)

 

MLB reports:  Every baseball player works towards making the big leagues. You have been there and want to get back:  What do you need to do to make that dream happen?

Luis Lopez:  To be honest… I don’t know! I think I have done enough to have ten years in! But I will always stay positive and keep playing hard. You never know who is watching!

 

MLB reports:  If you weren’t playing baseball today- what would you be doing?

Luis Lopez:  I would be managing, coaching or in the front office. Something with baseball. Many of my friends and family members feel I will make it back as a manager- because they feel I have the makeup for that. I can see it!


MLB reports:  Looking back at your career to-date, would you have done anything different?

Luis Lopez:  (Big Smile) Wow! To be honest… I probably wouldn’t have gone to Japan. It was a great experience; but I think as a position player I went out there too young. When you try to come back, it’s harder that you think. Also Atlanta let Julio Franco sign with the Mets on a 2-year deal because they wanted me to be the righty off the bench.


MLB reports:  When you think of your expectations going into professional baseball, what are some of the biggest surprises you have encountered?

Luis Lopez:  It had to be when I signed and how far I got to play. I signed for two gloves and a pair of spikes as my bonus; but I made it!


MLB reports:  Choice of cleats, bat and glove- what brands do you use?

Luis Lopez:  Nike cleats. I use my boy ex-player Pete Tucci’s bat company. Tucci Lumber and he’s MLB approved! (Big laugh) My glove is Nike also.

 

MLB reports:  Which past or present MLB players would you most compare yourself to?

Luis Lopez:  Edgar Martinez and Kevin Millar. I would love to have a pic of all three of us! (Laughs)

 

MLB reports:  If the major leagues are not an option, do you plan to stay in Indy ball?  Will you try to make the minors for a MLB team or go to another country like Japan again?

Luis Lopez:  As of right now, yes- I will be playing in Bridgeport in the Atlantic League. So hopefully someone will come find a guy (like me) that can pinch hit in the bigs and get a game winning hit! (Laughs)


MLB reports:  Proudest baseball accomplishment?

Luis Lopez:  There are many! I think and say thank you God for letting me be successful! HOF at Coastal Carolina University. 6 MVP’s. 7 time all-star. Over 2000 hits. Over 1000 RBI’s. All in the minors- but i feel anywhere is good! Plus I am going into my 18th year professionally.


MLB reports:  You really are the real life Crash Davis. Tell us about the comparison.

Luis Lopez:  Hahaha. I’ve seen a lot of places. Many great ballplayers. I try to help everyone just like Crash did in the movies because guys need to realize that Indy ball is another path back- it’s not the end. You put in the work and you will be fine. Look at Jerome Williams! He was in Lancaster last season. Then he got picked up and was on TV again last year. This year he is slated to be the number five starter for the Angels!  Way to go Jerome!

 

MLB reports:  You must have made many friends for life in this game.

Luis Lopez:  There’s too many to mention! But if I show up to spring training or any stadium, trust me that a lot of them would come up and say wassup! (Big grin)


MLB reports:  Final thoughts?

Luis Lopez:  Don’t ever let anyone say you can’t do something, because I’m living proof of what you can accomplish if you believe in yourself! Surround yourself around POSITIVE people especially in this sport… because it is a game of failure. Lastly: play hard or go home!

***Thank you to Luis Lopez for taking the time out of his offseason training to speak with us today on MLB reports!  You can follow Luis on Twitter (@DoubleL1919). Luis is great and absolutely adores interacting with his fans, so please feel free to send him any questions/comments you have.  Or just wish him good luck on the season, as he would appreciate your support!***

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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