Lopez's arrival may have impact on Lugo

Lopez's arrival may have impact on Lugo

JUPITER, Fla. -- Felipe Lopez's arrival with the Cardinals was good news for pretty much everyone involved. That is, perhaps, everyone except Julio Lugo.

Lugo almost certainly will see his playing time diminish as a result of Lopez's signing. A right-handed hitting middle infielder, Lugo's primary role with the Cardinals in 2009 was as Skip Schumaker's platoon partner at second base, and he also spent some time backing up Brendan Ryan at shortstop. Both of those jobs will now go at least partly to Lopez, who signed a one-year contract with St. Louis on Saturday.

Lopez will also play third base and the outfield, so manager Tony La Russa downplayed the impact on Lugo. But it's all but impossible for a healthy Lopez not to take at-bats from Lugo. La Russa acknowledged that a small role is not what Lugo is looking for.

"Lugo wasn't going to get any at-bats at third," La Russa said. "There weren't going to be at-bats in the outfield. What I have said is that's what I'm concerned about because he's that type of player. I'm not saying it's going to be an issue for us."

Lugo was diplomatic, then coy, when asked about the situation.

"It doesn't change anything for me," Lugo said. "I just worry about me, myself. Get ready and play good. They're the ones who have got to make the decisions."

Asked whether he viewed himself as an everyday player or a part-time player, Lugo responded: "You'll see after Spring Training is over. Then we'll talk."

Lugo acknowledged that as he goes about his business this spring, other clubs may be watching him with interest. Lugo's contract pays him $9 million in 2010, though the Red Sox are covering that as a condition of the trade that brought him to St. Louis.

"I always play for 30 teams," Lugo said. "I'm on the Cardinals, but you never know what's going to happen. I'm not thinking about anything else but being a Cardinal player. But you're in a bubble every day. You don't know what's going to happen. But I'm going to enjoy myself, get ready."

Lugo said that the club has not talked to him about his situation, but neither have his agents approached the team to ask for any sort of clarification or move.

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