Lopez again states roster desire
Infielder reiterates preference to play every day, not as backup
JUPITER, Fla. -- Infielder Felipe Lopez reiterated on Sunday that he would not be happy in a backup role with the Nationals, but he said he would play hard for the team and root for shortstop Cristian Guzman and second baseman Ronnie Belliard.
Lopez's feelings are in sharp contrast to what he said after the Nationals played the Tigers on Wednesday. He was adamant that he didn't want to be on the bench, but there was no mention about being a team player.
"If [manager] Manny [Acta] says, 'You are going to be on the bench,' what am I going to do? Sit here and pout? I'll be rooting for Cristian and Ronnie to do well," Lopez said. "I'm not going to root against them."
Lopez is aware about the published reports about the Nationals looking to trade him, but he said being dealt is the last thing on his mind.
"I'm here now doing the best I can for this team," said Lopez, who is hitting .231 for the spring. "If something were to happen, then I would be doing the same thing -- giving 100 percent for who I play for. I'm happy. I feel great. I don't know what else to say."
General manager Jim Bowden said on Sunday that he isn't close to trading any of his players who are on the 40-man roster.
"I'm certainly going to have compassion for people who are everyday players, but will not get to play every day from the get-go," Bowden said. "If we could make a move and give them an opportunity to play every day and make our organization better, we'll do it."
According to a baseball source, interest in Lopez is lukewarm because of the problems he had on and off the field last year. In fact, opposing teams would rather acquire Belliard or infielder/outfielder Willie Harris, but it's doubtful that the Nationals would trade those players. The Dodgers, for example, are still showing serious interest in Harris.
Belliard is hitting .383, while Harris has a .405 on-base percentage this spring.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.