PHILADELPHIA - There was a time when people said Atlanta catcher Javy Lopez would be a perennial All-Star.
After two consecutive years of declining numbers, no one dared mention the midsummer classic again.
Things have changed, as Lopez seems destined to attend the All-Star Game as a participant for the first time since 1998. He has more home runs than any other team's catching tandem, and although he probably won't win the popular vote among fans, it is likely he will be voted onto the team by managers, coaches and players.
"I wasn't thinking about it because in our league we have (Mike) Piazza and (Ivan) Rodriguez, so what are my chances of being in the All-Star Game?" Lopez said. "But, of course, I want to go. Who wouldn't?"
Asked what the odds were that Lopez would be an All-Star again, Braves manager Bobby Cox said: "Guys that have done it before, it doesn't go away. Sometimes it goes away for a while, but you know it's still there, and Javy is still young."
Lopez is on pace for his best season since he hit 34 home runs and knocked in 106 runs in 1998. He is batting .302 after a 1-for-4 effort in Thursday afternoon's 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, third among NL catchers, behind the Los Angeles Dodgers' Paul Lo Duca and the Phillies' Mike Lieberthal. His 38 RBI leads NL catchers, he's first in slugging percentage (.676) and fifth in on-base percentage (.345).