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Infielder Nicky Lopez adds defensive hitting


GLENDALE, Ariz. — In the second inning of Friday’s Cactus League opener against the Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., Nicky Lopez advanced to his right to field Alexander Canario’s grounder behind second base.

The White Sox second baseman threw the ball to shortstop Paul DeJong, who was covering the bag to end the inning.

New members of the Sox field Keep acclimating this spring.

“It’s one of those things where we’ve been in the big leagues, this will be my fifth year, he’s been there for seven years — we know where we like it, our sweet spot,” Lopez told the Tribune on Wednesday. working with a new pair of play partners. “Now it’s more about the communication part. You get all that done during spring training, which is a good thing. Any suggestions, any thoughts or anything like that, we’ll be in touch.

“It’s going great.”

Purchased as part Trade that sent reliever Aaron Bummer to Atlanta BravesLopez is one of the players the Sox will look to for defensive help. He committed just two errors in 277 games with the Kansas City Royals and Braves last season.

“I always put my hat on defense,” Lopez said. “It’s important for the guys on the mound to trust the people behind them to get the ball. I always say pitchers are working their butts off on the mound to get strikes and put the ball in play, the least we can do is make a play behind them.

“This has always been my mentality since my university years. This allows me to go out there and make plays and go the extra mile for the pitcher. I take great pride in being able to pick it up and throw it. “It excites me that they trust me so much.”

Manager Pedro Grifol said Lopez “fits in perfectly.”

“He’s a very good baseball player,” Grifol said. “What do I want to see? I want to see him play baseball. This requires you to play to win every day. Stay within yourself, stay within your role, get on base, turn the lineup around, make the moves and do every little thing possible to help us win this game. He is more than capable of doing this. I saw you do this. I will challenge him like no other. And he needs to understand that.”

Grifol remained defiant, saying he “won’t let him get off his game.”


“I have some history with him (in Kansas City),” Grifol said. “We’ve challenged him before. If you look at the back of his bubblegum card, that was the year he hit .365 on base (in 2021). He understands the game he needs to play.”

“We’re going to stay on top of him and everybody else and make sure they play at their game and do what they need to do as an organization to get this done.”

Lopez embraces the challenge.

“Every hitter will tell you that you are going to have good years and bad years,” Lopez said. “Except for my rookie year, I had a really good year in ’21 and then I had some pretty bad years. Some role changes and stuff, you have to ride that rollercoaster. The good thing about it is, you see a year like ’21 and I know I can do it, so there too.

“Now how do we take advantage of this, how do we bring it back? That was one of the things Pedro said: We will challenge you, so know who I am, play the game that will allow me to be successful. Don’t give up on this. I think he will challenge me to stay in the game. “I wouldn’t want anything different.”

Lopez, Naperville Central graduatehe is also seizing the opportunity to return to the region.

“The support from the city has been amazing, really special,” Lopez said. “I’ve always said I want to come back and play in Chicago before my career is over. And for that to happen at the best time, I feel like I’ve got a lot more baseball ahead of me, being only 28 years old.”

“So being able to do this now is a dream come true.”


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