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Notes: Lo Duca no summer rental

Marlins owner wants All-Star catcher to stay in Florida

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com



MIAMI -- When Paul Lo Duca first joined the Marlins after being acquired from the Dodgers, team owner Jeffrey Loria made it clear he wants the All-Star catcher to remain in South Florida for a while.

"He said he is not considering this a two-month rental," Lo Duca said of his initial conversation with the Marlins owner. "This is my first option and not a casual stop along the way."


Lo Duca is fifth-year arbitration eligible after the season, and the Marlins are planning on retaining the two-time All-Star, at least for 2005.


In his first week as a Marlin, Lo Duca has reached base in 12 of his first 21 plate appearances, a .571 on-base percentage. His two-run single in the ninth inning Friday capped a 7-6 comeback win over the Brewers.


During the game, Lo Duca suffered a bruise to his left ring finger.


Rather than risk aggravating the finger, manager Jack McKeon kept Lo Duca out of the lineup Saturday. McKeon was considering resting Lo Duca either on Saturday or Sunday. The team is off Monday.


"It's precautionary," Lo Duca says.


"The finger was pretty black and blue," McKeon said. "He was hurting on that swing [game-winning at-bat]."


The Marlins are looking to preserve Lo Duca, who has assumed the third spot in the order that was vacated by the loss of Ivan Rodriguez from last year.


"With those two, they are almost a carbon copy," McKeon says of Lo Duca resembling some of what Pudge brings at the plate.


McKeon says neither will log 20 or more home runs, but they have some power and don't strike out much. They have the knack for driving in big runs and giving quality at-bats.


All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell welcomes a proven hitter to the middle of the lineup, but cautions comparisons of Lo Duca to Rodriguez.


"Pudge brought a totally different persona," Lowell said. "Lo Duca brings a totally different passion."


Day off for Lowell: Mired in a 2-for-24 rut over the last six games, Lowell was given Saturday off.


"Jack told me I had played a lot of days in a row and he wanted to give me a day," Lowell said. "I didn't put up a big fight. Sometimes, it's actually a good thing to get a mental break."


Lowell says he knows when he isn't going well when he misses good pitches to hit. He had some of those chances on Friday against Ben Sheets.


Benitez getting closer: Throwing free and easy to batters for the first time since July 22, closer Armando Benitez is on track to return Thursday against the Cardinals.


On the disabled list with right elbow inflammation, Benitez became eligible to come off the DL on Saturday. However, the team isn't rushing anything.


Since Benitez hadn't thrown to a batter, he wanted to toss batting practice before taking the mound again. He did so on Saturday, tossing 28 pitches.


The session went according to plan, and Benitez will likely throw another batting practice on Tuesday. If his arm responds favorably again, the target date to getting him back is Thursday.


Sticking with Perisho: Despite his struggles while facing Ben Grieve, Matt Perisho likely will draw the lefty-lefty assignment again.


Grieve belted a two-run homer off Perisho on Friday night in the eighth inning. In head-to-head matchups, Grieve is 7-for-9 with four homers off Perisho.


"I'll let him pitch to him," McKeon said.


McKeon said if Perisho executes his pitches, he will get better results. Grieve belted a pitch up in the zone Friday.

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