MANCHESTER — New Hampshire Fisher Cats second baseman Christian Lopes didn’t want to play the game when he was growing up and was shy even when he started to. Now he has dreams of playing in the majors.
Lopes, 23, doesn’t know exactly what made him fall in love with baseball. He just remembers that the more he played, the more he enjoyed the culture of the game.
“(Being) around the guys, or kids at that point, and just the atmosphere and camaraderie between the families and all that stuff, I just really enjoyed it,” Lopes said after New Hampshire’s 4-2 loss to the Reading Fightin Phils Thursday at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
The Toronto Blue Jays selected Lopes in the seventh round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native signed with the Blue Jays out of Edison (Calif.) High School.
“God led me in that decision,” Lopes said. “My family did, as well, and I just felt like the Blue Jays were a good fit. Everything that I’d heard about them was good things. They develop good ballplayers and I wanted to be a part of the system.”
Lopes began this season in Advanced-A Dunedin (Fla.) before getting the call up to New Hampshire last Friday. He batted .196 with three home runs, 10 RBIs and eight runs scored over 15 games with Dunedin before the call. Lopes is batting .211 with four walks and a run scored over seven games with New Hampshire. He went 2-for-3 with a walk in the Fisher Cats’ loss to Reading on Thursday.
This is Lopes’ second stint at the Double-A level. He batted .174 with seven RBIs, 11 walks and six runs scored over 34 games with the Fisher Cats last season.
“He swings the bat well,” New Hampshire manager Bobby Meacham said of Lopes. “If you throw a fastball at him, he’s going to do some damage. He’s a line-drive hitter.
“Like I did when I had him for a short period of time last year, I’ll continue to give him all the information he needs and hopefully he can use it all for his benefit and become the player he wants to be.”
Meacham said Lopes still needs to work on some of his defensive skills. Lopes has been impressed by how much he has improved defensively since his rookie season and his focus right now is on his approach at the plate.
“Going from last year, I wanted to hit for a higher average,” Lopes said. “This year, I kind of wanted to bring in some more runs, drive the ball a little bit more.”
Besides further developing as a player, Lopes’ main goal this season is to be consistent.
“I want to be a reliable player, a player that can be counted on,” Lopes said. “I want to learn the game from the inside out and just continue to grow and continue to mature and become more proficient in my craft.”
If Lopes can reach his goals this season, he might just achieve his main objective.
“The goal is to be in the big leagues,” Lopes said. “We’re not there yet. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”