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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Juan Lopez played then coached, made bigs as bullpen coach

Juan Lopez 1990 Everett Giants card
Reds hurler Bronson Arroyo was in danger of seeing a start pushed back in April 2009 due to numbness in his fingers, wrote.

After a cortisone shot, and a game of catch with his bullpen coach Juan Lopez, though, Arroyo felt ready to pitch, wrote, and his bullpen coach couldn't argue.

"Bronson threw really good," Lopez told

By that point, Lopez had nearly two decades of experience behind him, assessing and helping pitchers, both in the minors and in the majors. He also had six seasons before that as a player himself, though he never made the majors.

Lopez is continuing his run as a major league bullpen coach into 2013, continuing with the Reds.

Lopez' baseball career began back in 1983, signed by the Indians out of his native Puerto Rico.

Lopez played three seasons in the Cleveland system, never making it above single-A. He then played two seasons with the Astros, making it to AAA Tucson. His final playing time came with the Giants system in 1989, Lopez never making the bigs.

By 1990, Lopez was a coach, teaching hitting at short-season Everett. Lopez continued coaching and managing in the minors through 1996.

In 1997, Lopez made the majors for the first time, serving as the Giants' bullpen catcher. He stayed in that job for two seasons. From 1999 to 2002, Lopez moved up to Giants' bullpen coach.

He moved to the same position with the Cubs in 2003, getting to return with the team to Puerto Rico that September for a series with the Expos.

"If you're from Puerto Rico and you're in the big leagues, all Puerto Rico is happy for you," Lopez told on the occasion of his return. "Most of my friends, when I was a player, they'd love the chance to see me play."

Lopez stayed with the Cubs for four seasons. He then spent a season with the Mets in the Gulf Coast League before moving back to the bigs as bullpen coach with the Reds in 2008.

In 2011, his son Jack Lopez signed with the Royals, the same son that The San Francisco Chronicle recorded a decade earlier doing imitations of the same Giants pitchers his father worked with. The son recalled to The Orlando Sentinel after his signing that he'd been around pro players since he was 4 or 5 years old

"Since I have been a little boy," Lopez told The Orlando Sentinel, "it has been my dream to sign a professional contract and make my way to the major leagues."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured: 973
Made the Majors: 625 - 64.2%-X
Never Made Majors: 348-35.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 277
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 166

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