AUBURN | Reynaldo Lopez is ready to put his last start at Falcon Park behind him.
After being injured in his first appearance as a member of the Doubledays last season, Lopez will return as Auburn's opening day starter in a face-off against the Batavia Muckdogs 7:05 p.m. Friday at Falcon Park.
"I feel great," Lopez said through a translator. "I feel very good about it."
Lopez lasted one out into the second inning in his start on June 21, 2013. The six-foot right-hander allowed seven hits and seven earned runs, as the State College Spikes went on to win 12-1.
"When I pitched last year, nothing good happened," Lopez said. "I was throwing hurt. I wasn't happy about it."
Doubledays manager Gary Cathcart could tell something wasn't right with Lopez.
"We knew he was hurt, you could tell by the way he was throwing," Cathcart said. "That's why we got him out of there."
Lopez was assigned to the Gulf Coast League a few days later, but was held out the rest of the season with an arm ailment.
The 20-year-old returned for a pair of starts with the Hagerstown Suns in May and June. Over 7 2/3 innings, he struck out five and allowed 12 hits and six runs.
"I had one good start and one bad one," Lopez said.
The San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic native reportedly touched 101 mph with his fastball in extended spring training.
"I work a lot, I work hard," Lopez said. "Then you see the results."
But for Cathcart, it's not about how hard a player can throw. It's more about the ability to locate his pitches.
"If he learns it, because of the stuff he's got, he has a chance to be pretty darn good," Cathcart said.