Perhaps Felipe Lopez felt that he had skated altogether too freely after flipping his bat at White Sox pitcher Chris Sale on April 9.
He apologized after the game, which apparently went a long way. Thursday, the final meeting between the teams this season featured five hit batters—none of them Lopez. He did not, in fact, get hit at all by a White Sox staff led by Ozzie Guillen, a man notorious for ordering his pitchers to retaliate for various violations of the unwritten rules.
Less forgiving was Lopez’s own manager, Joe Maddon, who said after the game that the bat flip “is not who we are,” and that “we don’t do that here.”
One might think that Lopez, new to the Rays, would at this point take great pains to please his manager. But no. Friday he broke a cornerstone of the unwritten rules—one that falls under the headings of both “respect your teammates” and “respect the game”: He failed to hustle.
With one out in the 11th inning of a game against Toronto, Lopez made no real effort toward first base as shortstop Jason McDonald bobbled a grounder; Lopez would have easily beat the throw had he been running. When the next hitter, Sean Rodriguez, followed with a walk, Tampa Bay could sense a potential rally wasted. One hitter later, the inning was over.
Lopez has a history of running afoul with team management, getting booted from the Cardinals last season for perennial tardiness. He wasn’t even on the Rays roster coming out of spring training, but was called up to replace the injured Evan Longoria.
Tampa is his eighth team in an 11-year career. One can imagine that his time there is quickly drawing to a close.