Roch around the clock


March 03, 2006|By ROCH KUBATKO

Only two hits until the eighth inning? A 6-4 loss to the stripped-down Florida Marlins?

That's it, trade for another bat right now or cancel the season.

Just kidding. There were some positive signs. Rodrigo Lopez deserved much better. Javy Lopez looked like a Gold Glove first baseman. Jeff Fiorentino reminded us that there's another exciting outfield prospect in camp besides Nick Markakis. And Markakis reminded us that there aren't any other prospects in the organization who can touch him right now.

Markakis made the last out, but again, he scorched the ball - this time to deep center field. It was a line drive that kept carrying.

New catcher Ramon Hernandez liked the way Lopez and Erik Bedard were throwing. Manager Sam Perlozzo noted that Bedard was fine until he became too preoccupied with the runners on base. John Stephens was good for one inning, but then he started getting the ball up. That's a sure disaster for a guy who throws that softly.

Javy Lopez acknowledged that, in his first game, he felt a little intimidated and nervous. But he was focused on every pitch, and he insisted that he's having fun. His catching instincts allowed him to stop one grounder, as he slid on his knees to get in front of the ball. You won't find that technique on any instructional video, but "for me, it's the securest way," Lopez said.

Not only did he excel in his first game at a new position, but he also invented a new word.

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