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5 things to know about Nicky Lopez's promotion

@FlannyMLB
May 15, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- The much-anticipated promotion from Triple-A Omaha of Royals infielder Nicky Lopez has occurred. Lopez, ranked as the club's No. 8 prospect by MLB Pipeline, arrived early Tuesday afternoon to Kauffman Stadium and started at second base in the series opener against the Rangers. He is wearing No.

KANSAS CITY -- The much-anticipated promotion from Triple-A Omaha of Royals infielder Nicky Lopez has occurred.

Lopez, ranked as the club's No. 8 prospect by MLB Pipeline, arrived early Tuesday afternoon to Kauffman Stadium and started at second base in the series opener against the Rangers. He is wearing No. 1, last worn by Jarrod Dyson. Lopez wore No. 3 in the Minors, but that number belongs to manager Ned Yost.

“He has worn that number a lot longer than me,” Lopez said, smiling. “And he won a [World Series] title with it.”

Lopez delivered an RBI single in the seventh inning in an 11-5 win over the Rangers for his first Major League hit.

Here are five things to know about Lopez’s arrival:

1. How did Lopez find out he was going to The Show?

Lopez: “I don’t think I've stopped smiling. I found out yesterday. It’s just been a whirlwind of emotions. My phone is blowing up, which is great to see all the support. It’s been a great 24 hours. I had an off-day Saturday, I played on Mother’s Day Sunday, and then I had an off-day Monday. I usually don’t have off-days that close together, so I thought that was weird and [Omaha manager Brian Poldberg] said it was because I didn’t get a hit Sunday on Mother’s Day with the pink bat. I knew that wasn’t it. So after like a 4 1/2-hour game on Monday, [Poldberg] said to grab my phone and come into his office. I did and he said, ‘Call your mom.’ So I did and then he wanted me to hand him the phone. He starts talking, ‘Mrs. Lopez, I didn’t play Nicky today because he didn’t get a hit with the pink bat Sunday. ... But he’s actually going to Kansas City.’ Then she started crying and I got emotional. I thought something might be up during the game. I thought, ‘Maybe today is the day, maybe it isn’t.’ But you try not to get caught up in it.”

2. How was the decision made to bring up Lopez?

Yost: “One time we talked about Nicky this season before this, about two weeks ago. I went upstairs after a road trip -- and I never do that -- but I just went upstairs to make sure we’re all on the same page. We talked about Nicky, and [general manager Dayton Moore’s] plan was to keep him down there until maybe first of June, middle of June. Then, when Dayton came in last Saturday night, we started talking about it again. He wanted to know what I thought. I said, ‘Let’s think about it. I’m ready.’ And he said, ‘When you want to do this?’ I said ‘Now.’ Dayton and I talk all the time. Dayton is one of the smartest baseball men I have ever known. He thinks about our team 24 hours a day. He never shuts it down. He has everything planned out. And I’ve never in these situations gone to him, ‘Look, we need to do that.’ I’ve never done that because he has it thought out about what’s best for this organization. So I could sense when he was talking Saturday, we could do it now.”

3. Where will Lopez play and hit in the lineup?

Lopez will primarily play second base, and also spell Adalberto Mondesi at shortstop on occasion. And after some thought, Yost decided Lopez will hit No. 2 in the order behind Whit Merrifield and ahead of Mondesi.

Yost: “Whit has gotten on base, Mondi has gotten on base, but also has driven in runs. The perfect scenario is Whit and Nicky scoring runs, and Mondi and [Alex Gordon] driving in runs. Nicky is high on-base percentage, contact guy. Are you putting a lot on him hitting him second? Yeah. I think he can handle it, though. I’ve always done it this way. I put Ryan Braun in the No. 3 hole right away [in Milwaukee]. I could put Nicky in the nine-hole or the seven-hole and let him get his feet wet. But he’s going to hit at the top of the order anyway, so let him get used to it.”

4. How can Lopez help the team?

Yost: “It really lengthens the lineup. We have really struggled with the bottom third of the lineup, but this drops everything down. It gives us more opportunity to score runs.”

Moore: “He can provide great defense for us, too. He’s an action player. He puts the ball in play. He’s our type of player.”

5. How does Merrifield feel about losing his second-base job and moving to the outfield?

Merrifield: “Honestly, it was nothing new for me. It’s just kind of been the course of my career. I was a shortstop in high school, and I get to college and they ask me to play center field, and I said, ‘Yeah.’ Played two years of center field. Sophomore year, I was one of the best defensive center fielders in college. Then going into my junior year, I played third base, second and right. In pro ball, played center field for couple years, then bounced around. Got here and the need was at second base. And now it’s best for this team to play outfield. I’m excited for Nicky. He’s a great kid and a great player. I think he’ll help our team. At the end of the day, I’m sick of losing. I really am.”

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.