José Celestino López Echevarria (born November 24, 1983) is a Venezuelan professional baseball first baseman for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars of Nippon Professional Baseball. López has previously played in Major League Baseball for the Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox and for the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball.
López with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in 2015
|Yokohama DeNA BayStars – No. 2|
Born: November 24, 1983|
Anzoategui State, Venezuela
|MLB: July 31, 2004, for the Seattle Mariners|
|NPB: March 29, 2013, for the Yomiuri Giants|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 3, 2012, for the Chicago White Sox|
|Runs batted in||480|
|NPB statistics |
(through July 29, 2018)
|Runs batted in||432|
|Career highlights and awards|
In 2001 López was named the Everett AquaSox Most Valuable Player by the Mariners player development department. Later that season he participated in the Arizona Fall League. He was also named the Mariners' minor league "Player of the Year."
He was named Mariners' minor league "Player of the Year" with the San Bernardino Stampede in 2002, marking the second time he won this award. He led the California League with 169 hits and 39 doubles. His .324 average was second-highest among all Marines minor leaguers while his 31 steals ranked fourth. Later that year selected to play with the World Team at the 2002 MLB Future's Game in Milwaukee.
López played three different infield positions (second base, shortstop and third base) in 132 games with the Double-A San Antonio Missions in 2003. He was third in the Texas League with 35 doubles. He had 41 multi-hit games, including four 4-hit games. At the all-star break he was selected to start for the Texas League. At the end of the season he was named to Texas League Postseason All-Star Team. López hit .391 with 3 runs, 2 home runs, a steal and 5 RBIs in five postseason games. He again played with Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League.
He hit .295 with 13 home runs, 39 RBIs in 74 games with the triple-A Tacoma Rainiers in 2004 before being called up on July 31. López made his major league debut on July 31, 2004. At the end of the season he hit .311 with 11 doubles, 10 HR, 29 RBI in 46 games with Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League, making this the third time he played for Lara.
In 2005, López battled extensive injury, going on the disabled list twice. In 44 games with Tacoma he hit .319 with five home runs and 31 RBIs.
He hit .232 with five home runs and 22 RBI in 57 games. López was selected as a replacement for the 2006 All-Star Game due to an injury to Robinson Canó. During this game, Lopez pinch-ran for Paul Konerko in the 9th inning and went on to score the game-tying run.
On May 27, 2008, López helped end a seven-game Mariner losing skid with a walk-off single off Boston reliever Mike Timlin to score Wladimir Balentien. The Mariners won 4–3 and López was later quoted saying jokingly, "I wanted to run to center field...I knew the team was coming to kill me."
During spring training for the 2010 season, López was converted to a third baseman replacing teammate Chone Figgins who in turn took over the second base position.
In a game against the Chicago White Sox on April 23, 2010, López hit his first career grand slam home run against former Mariner J. J. Putz. López hit his second career grand slam off of Joba Chamberlain on July 10, 2010 in the bottom of the 8th inning leading the Mariners to a 4–1 victory over the New York Yankees.
On July 27, 2010 while running to first base in the 1st inning, López strained his left hamstring. He missed the following six games, returning on August 4. In his first at bat back, he hit a 2 RBI single against the Texas Rangers with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the first inning.
On June 9, 2011, just days after being released by Colorado, López inked a minor league deal with the Florida Marlins. He had his contract purchased on June 15. He was designated for assignment on July 2, after making 31 plate appearances for the Marlins, hitting just .103. He showed remarkable improvement in August and September, returning to the Marlins and raising his batting average from over 100 points to .231.
López signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians on December 16, 2011. He also received an invitation to spring training. On April 1, 2012, it was announced that López had made the major league roster as a reserve infielder. López was designated for assignment on May 1, 2012 to make room on the 40-man roster for Johnny Damon. After being subsequently outrighted to Triple-A Columbus, López's contract was purchased by the Indians again on May 12, 2012.
On January 7, 2013 López signed with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball. López finished with a .303 average, 18 home runs and 55 RBI in 121 games for Yomiuri. Besides, he posted a .993 fielding percentage while playing 136 games at first base and was honored with the Gold Glove Award. He had a subpar season in 2014, hitting .243 with 22 homers and 57 RBI in 134 games.
In the 2016 season, López hit .263 and slugged .534 in 123 games, while collecting career-best marks with 34 home runs and 95 RBI. In addition, he committed only two errors in 1,106 total chances at first base, leading NPB first basemen with a .998 fielding percentage and winning his second Gold Glove Award, becoming just the third Latin American player to add more than one Gold Glove in Japanese baseball history. His countryman Robert Marcano continues to lead the group with four awards and the also Venezuelan Roberto Petagine is in second place with three.
In 2018, he selected 2018 NPB All-Star game.
López, along with teammates Félix Hernández and Carlos Silva was a member of Team Venezuela in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In Round 1 against the Netherlands, he hit a solo home run to give Venezuela a two-run lead and the victory later with a 3–1 win.
Before the team's game on June 13, 2007, López was informed that his brother Gabriel died in a motorcycle accident in Venezuela. López still played in the game because his family told him he would not be able to make it home in time for the funeral and they wanted him to stay with the team and keep playing. He went 0-for-4 with an RBI in the game.
On June 16, 2009 he was put on the bereavement list again to visit his cancer-stricken sister but she died before he got there. López remained in Venezuela for his sister's funeral and did not play for about a week.
López and his wife, Katerine, have one child, José López Jr.