Lopez makes Cards debut in left field

Lopez makes Cards debut in left

ST. LOUIS -- A day after the Cardinals signed him to a Major League contract, Felipe Lopez started Wednesday's game in left field.

Released by the Washington Nationals on July 31, Lopez sported No. 22 for the Cardinals and made his seventh start of the year in left. Although Lopez primarily plays the infield, manager Tony La Russa wanted to exploit the matchup against Los Angeles Dodgers starter Derek Lowe.

"We want to get an extra left-hand hitter in there against Mr. Lowe, and we've already got one at second and short," La Russa said, referring to Adam Kennedy and Cesar Izturis.

With the organization interested in Lopez at the Trade Deadline, the Cardinals pounced and signed him for the remainder of the season. La Russa said he has kept an eye on Lopez for a while.

Leaving the last-place Nationals, Lopez comes to the Cardinals -- a team competing for not just a playoff spot, but possibly a division title. Saying signing with the Cardinals was a "no-brainer," Lopez expressed his excitement to have something to play for.

"It's like night and day," Lopez said. "You go from somewhere you're dead last and the energy's not there. ... As soon as I came in, I felt that energy. It really inspires me. It motivates me to play hard and do all the things I know I can do."

The Cardinals also recalled reliever Chris Perez from Triple-A Memphis while optioning outfielder Nick Stavinoha back to Triple-A. Perez will be immediately available to pitch as he makes his second stint with the Cardinals.

Lee Hurwitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.