‘It came at me pretty fast’: Nicky Lopez called to start for Royals on Opening Day

Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just four days ago, the Kansas City Royals optioned infielder Nicky Lopez to Triple-A Omaha. Now, he’s going to play on Opening Day against the Texas Rangers.

Lopez replaces Adalberto Mondesi, who was put on the 10-day injured list after straining his oblique. 

“It came at me pretty fast. It was like, ‘hey, you’re going to go play, you’re going to go start at shortstop.’ I’ve been here before,” Lopez told reporters on Thursday.

Lopez struggled at the plate in 2020, striking out 41 times in 192 plate appearances. The 26-year-old said he wasn’t initially happy with the move to Omaha, but was determined to get back to his brand of baseball.

“I took a day where I was like, ‘man, this is going to suck. Like I’m not going to be on Opening Day,’” Lopez recalled. “But then I flipped the script really quick and was like, ‘alright, I got to be ready in case, whatever happens, I got to be ready for that call to get back up there.’”

Pitchers Carlos Hernandez, Jake Brentz and outfielder Kyle Isbel are among other players who made the Royals’ Opening Day roster — a first for the three. 

“Just being able to go out there and give it your all everyday and help the team win, I’m just grateful for the opportunity,” Isbel said. 

Isbel was drafted by the Royals in the third round of the 2018 MLB Draft. 

Brentz had a longer road. He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013, then made stops in minor league systems for Seattle and Pittsburgh. The St. Louis native is enjoying every bit of his journey.

“Everything I went through and the long road it took me, I think that truly got me to this point. I think that build me as the pitcher I am,” Brentz said. 

The Royals host the Texas Rangers at 3:10 p.m. Here are the starting lineups:

Kansas City Royals Lineup

  1. Whit Merrifield – Second Base
  2. Andrew Benintendi – Left Field
  3. Carlos Santana – First Base
  4. Salvador Perez – Catcher
  5. Jorge Soler – Designated Hitter
  6. Hunter Dozier – Third Baseman
  7. Kyle Isbel – Right Field
  8. Michael Taylor – Center Field
  9. Nicky Lopez – Short Stop

    Starting Pitcher: Brad Keller

Texas Rangers Lineup

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – Short Stop
  2. David Dahl – Left Field
  3. Joey Gallo – Right Field
  4. Nick Solak – Second Base
  5. Nate Lowe – First Base
  6. Brock Holt – Third Base
  7. Eli White – Designated Hitter
  8. Leody Taveras – Center Field
  9. Jose Trevino – Catcher

    Starting Pitcher – Kyle Gibson

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