A staple of the Atlanta Braves' success in the 1990's and part of the new milenium has decided to call it a career. Javy Lopez, who led the Braves to their successful runs, including trips to the World Series, was released by the National League club today after being told by mananager Bobby Cox that he would not be on the team's opening day roster when the Braves take on the Washington Nationals a week from Easter Sunday on ESPN.
Lopez, who at one time caught every Braves pitcher except for Greg Maddux, was drafted by the Braves as a free agent in 1987, making his debut in the show in 1992 against the Houston Astros. While he was a pretty good hitter at one point in time for the Braves, he will best remember for his fielding and ability to throw out runners, although he never won a Gold Glove.
He knew that after stints with the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, and Colorado Rockies that coming back would not be an easy task, since the Braves already had Brian McCann as their number one reciever. Nonetheless, he gave his best effort, despite only hitting .188 with a pair of homers in his 32 Grapefruit League at-bats this year. The three-time All-Star (1997, 1998 and 2003) has hit .287 with 260 homers in his Major League career. His finest season came with Atlanta in 2003, when he hit a career-high 43 homers and had 109 RBIs.
While it was good to see him back in a Braves uniform, there is that voice in the back of every Braves fan mind that says, "He's not the same player he once was." I hope that Javy stays in the organization as a catching instructor. The catchers of the future could learn from this man.
Thanks, Javy. You were one of the good ones.