SAN FRANCISCO -- Javier Lopez, left-handed pitcher, prefers to be described more as a "pitcher" than just "left-handed."
Lopez understands why he's referred to as a "situational" left-hander. Left-handed batters have hit .204 off him, compared to .315 for right-handers. The Giants obtained him Saturday from Pittsburgh largely to fill the void created by the injuries to Jeremy Affeldt and Dan Runzler, who are expected to be sidelined for about three more weeks.
Common sense dictates that Lopez, who broke into the Major Leagues in 2003 with Colorado, would be in a different line of work if he were completely helpless against right-handers. He also realizes that roles are assigned for a reason.
"I don't really enjoy the label," Lopez said Sunday of the lefty-specialist designation. "But the way I throw the ball with my [arm] angle, that's the label I have."
The Giants are Lopez's fifth team, indicating that he always has been a desirable commodity. But he didn't believe he'd be leaving the Pirates as Saturday's Trade Deadline approached, though he said he heard "whispers" that he might be involved in a deal. When manager John Russell summoned Lopez to inform him of the trade, the 33-year-old said that "it came out of the blue."
Lopez, who's wearing No. 49 with the Giants, primarily relies on a sinking fastball to coax grounders from opponents. He said that he typically resorts to an offspeed pitch when he needs a strikeout.
Lopez didn't walk into a clubhouse of strangers upon reporting to AT&T Park. He was a Colorado teammate of infielder Juan Uribe's in 2003. Also, Lopez and Jonathan Sanchez joined forces on Puerto Rico's 2009 World Baseball Classic squad.