The strange late-season saga of infielder Felipe Lopez has taken another unlikely twist: Blowing off the possibility of playing in a pennant race in the season's last 10 days, Lopez has agreed to join the Boston Red Sox after spurning the Padres.
Released by the Cardinals earlier this week after a disappointing offensive performance (.231 average, .310 on-base percentage) and being habitually late, the Padres moved in and claimed him off waivers. After losing Jerry Hairston Jr. for the season to a stress fracture in his leg, the Padres have been frantically looking to add infield depth for the season's final push.
Lopez, however, vetoed the waiver claim and then signed with the Red Sox.
Though Lopez would not have been eligible for San Diego's playoff roster, Hairston's injury has left the Padres alarmingly short of infield depth as they battle San Francisco and Colorado for the NL West division title and Atlanta for the wild-card slot.
Miguel Tejada, 36, has become the everyday shortstop since his late-July acquisition from Baltimore. Initially, the plan was for Tejada to plug into shortstop while Hairston played second until David Eckstein returned from a calf injury. After that, the Padres intended to mix Tejada into shortstop with Hairston and into third base with Chase Headley.
Headley is in a .194 slide (7 for 36) over his past 10 games and looks fatigued. His workload has been heavy: In just his second full season, he ranked fifth in the NL with 581 at-bats heading into Friday's series opener with Cincinnati.
Without Hairston -- and with Lopez declining to join the stretch run -- the Padres are left with Headley at third, Tejada at short, Eckstein at second and Everth Cabrera as a backup shortstop/second baseman.
Why would the Red Sox want him at this point? Among other reasons, one industry source said the Red Sox made the move so that they would receive a compensatory draft pick if someone signs him on the free agent market this winter.