Reds' Cabrera cleared to resume backup duties

Lopez never activated, sent back to Triple-A Louisville

Reds' Cabrera cleared to resume backup duties

DENVER -- Catcher Raffy Lopez was summoned from Triple-A Louisville and instead of an actual big league promotion, got a free overnight stay in downtown Denver on Sunday and a visit to Coors Field on Monday morning.

But the Reds never made a roster move. Lopez was insurance, of sorts, because backup catcher Ramon Cabrera was dealing with a sore left hand.

"I've been here before, but it beats 11-12-hour bus rides and a couple Dos Equis. It was comfortable," Lopez said.

On Friday when he started against the Brewers, Cabrera was behind the plate when he took a foul ball off the back of his left ring finger and was hurting the past couple of days. After Sunday's game at Miller Park, he was sent back to Cincinnati for an exam and MRI. Once he checked out OK, the Reds decided not to put Cabrera on the disabled list and he was scheduled to fly to Denver and rejoin the club before Monday's game.

Lopez, 28, played seven games for the Cubs in 2014 and got his first Major League hit against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. He was released by the Tigers on April 1 and spent three weeks playing with Bridgeport in the independent Atlantic League before the Reds signed him to a Minor League contract May 3.

Falling just short of being back in the Majors was unfortunate for Lopez, but he took it in stride before getting his plane ticket back to Louisville and heading out.

"Your goal is to be here," he said. "It's disappointing because you want to get back to where you want to be. I developed relationships with some of the guys in Louisville. I played with Tyler [Holt] in college and knew Josh Smith when we were kids. It's disappointing, but it's gratifying at the same time. You're still that close."

The Reds do have a third catcher in Jordan Pacheco, but the club still felt like it needed to have Lopez had Cabrera went on the DL.

"He's more of an emergency option," manager Bryan Price said. "We didn't sign him to compete as a second catcher. We signed him to be more of a utility and bench player that can catch, which is a great luxury. I wouldn't be apprehensive at all; he caught in Spring Training, he's caught plenty in the past."

As for another catcher in the system, Kyle Skipworth remains on the 60-day DL as he works back from offseason ankle surgery. Skipworth has been in Goodyear, Ariz., playing games at extended spring training and isn't eligible for activation until Thursday. Cincinnati's catching situation was already set back with Devin Mesoraco out for the season and Tucker Barnhart now the regular catcher.

"When you think about it, you have Tucker playing three out of every four, four out of every five, we've got Ramon here and he gets hurt," Price said. "Then you say, 'What's your next line of defense?' Your other 40-man guy is Skipworth and he's doing ankle rehab."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.