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Honored Lopez bows out of Classic

Shortstop prefers to prepare for upcoming season

Felipe Lopez (right) wants to get acquainted with new infield coach Bucky Dent. Wily Mo Pena (left) will play for the Dominican in the WBC. (Al Behrman/AP)

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Reds shortstop Felipe Lopez announced Sunday that he has decided not to play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

Lopez, who arrived early to Spring Training for Cincinnati on Saturday, said he needed to get ready for the upcoming regular season.

"I would love to represent my country, don't get me wrong," Lopez said. "We have a lot of new people that I want to get to know and work with. (Reds bench coach) Bucky Dent is our new infield coach. I really want to get acquainted with what he wants to do and his style of teaching everything."

Players participating in the World Baseball Classic have to leave their Major League club's Spring Training sites to practice and play in games with their countries. The inaugural tournament is scheduled from March 3-20.

After not starting out as a regular player last season, Lopez emerged to become an All-Star and Silver Slugger Award winner. The 25-year-old switch-hitter batted .291 with 23 home runs and 85 RBIs in 148 games and ranked first among National League shortstops in homers, RBIs and tied for the top in extra-base hits.

Reds backup catcher Javier Valentin is still expected to play for Puerto Rico in the WBC. Cincinnati has a total of six players that were named to participate, including center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. for Team USA and left fielder Wily Mo Pena for the Dominican Republic.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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