During the chilly nights of March and April regular season baseball, players are often given the benefit of the doubt. It’s early, we say. He is still finding his timing. The sample size is too small. Give it time. Give him a chance.
Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Wilton Lopez will be granted no such benefit of doubt in 2014. His leash in 2013 was already far too long, leading the team in appearances despite inconsistent performances and some truly atrocious moments. When asked why he keeps giving the ball to Lopez, manager Walt Weiss gave the rather unsettling explanation that Lopez “always wants the ball,” which seems like shaky reasoning indeed when it comes to choosing a reliever.
It is fair to say that the sight of Lopez entering the game for the Rockies never inspires confidence. You might even say that we know things are going to go bad for him even before he enters the game. As in, I really and truly believe that this moment right here is when we knew things would go wrong for Lopez on Tuesday night against the White Sox.
It just isn’t working. Not even the rosiest of perspectives could have seen Lopez jogging to get ready for this game and said: “Yea! He’ll turn it around tonight!”
Lopez needs to pitch for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. It might need to be for a long time. We will see him again with the Rockies, and hopefully some improvement in Triple-A and/or the healing power of time will leave us in a position where we do not feel completely doomed upon seeing him start his trot to the bullpen mound to warm up.