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02/14/08 9:20 PM ET

Lopez loses arbitration case

Infielder will make $4.9 million instead of $5.2 million sought

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals infielder Felipe Lopez lost his arbitration case Thursday night and will make $4.9 million instead of the $5.2 million he was seeking.

When reached by phone, Lopez said he was not upset by the ruling and enjoyed the experience he went through in Tampa.

"It's really not a big deal. We lost. Of course, I got a raise," said Lopez, who made $3.9 million last year.

Lopez said he would have never gone to arbitration if the Nationals had agreed to pay him at the midpoint, which was $5.05 million, but the team refused. According to Lopez, the team pointed out the negatives of his 2007 season -- in which he hit .245 with nine home runs and 50 RBIs -- to the three arbitrators.

Lopez was not angry about what the Nationals said. In fact, he said, it will motivate him to do better in 2008.

"It's just the process that we have. It fired me up, I'm not hurt about it. I'm ready to play ball," he said.

Lopez is listed as a reserve on the Nationals' depth chart, but, privately, some team officials feel he could be their leadoff hitter. In 2006, for example, Lopez had a .358 on-base percentage and scored 98 runs.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.