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Emotional Return for Lo Duca


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MILWAUKEE - The Los Angeles Dodgers are expecting a sellout for tonight's game against the Marlins. After all, it's Korean American Community Night.

 

But not everyone in the crowd of 55,000-plus will be cheering for the home team -- or for Korean first baseman Hee Seop Choi, a former Marlin.

 

Catcher Paul Lo Duca, the Dodgers' most popular player until he and Choi switched teams in a six-player deal 18 days ago, is certain to get a warm reception in his first trip to Los Angeles since the trade.

 

Even the Dodgers manager plans to give him a hand.

 

''I expect a standing ovation, a well-deserved one,'' said Jim Tracy, who now wears Lo Duca's No. 16 Dodgers jersey, partly in tribute. ``I might give him one, too.''

 

But while Lo Duca still has friends among the fans and his ex-teammates, he remains bitter about being traded from the organization he spent his entire pro career with.

 

''I got all my stuff out of the other clubhouse, and I'm not going to go over there,'' he said Sunday. ``It has nothing to do with the other guys. Just to keep it that way.

 

``The toughest part is seeing those guys over there, your friends that you played with for a long time. That's going to be difficult.

 

'I've never been in the visitors' clubhouse there. So that's going to be a little weird.''

 

Jeff Weaver, tonight's starter for the Dodgers, can sympathize after being traded three times in the past two years.

 

''I remember going back to Detroit the first time I got traded,'' he said. ``Just being in the other dugout is strange.

 

``He's going to be trying to show us, put a hurting to us. He wants to show it was a bad decision for the trade to be made.

 

``[but] it doesn't take much to put things behind you. You kind of understand what the baseball business is all about. The first trade is definitely the strangest.''

 

Lo Duca, who had a pair of doubles Sunday to raise his average to .429 in 11 games with the Marlins, said the most difficult adjustment he has had to make so far has been off the field.

 

But he hopes to close that chapter this week by helping his wife Sonia, who is 6 ? months pregnant, finish moving out of the couple's Pasadena apartment.

 

''Making phone calls, getting movers here and getting your clothes shipped, I think that's been the toughest part,'' Lo Duca said. ``That's the toughest part of moving any time. I have all that stuff in L.A., my furniture. I'm just going to give it to Goodwill, most of it.''

 

But while Lo Duca admitted tonight's homecoming will be emotional, reliever Guillermo Mota, who came to Florida with Lo Duca, sees the three-game series in Los Angeles as just another series.

 

''It's a team like any other,'' Mota said of the Dodgers. ``It's like when I got traded from Montreal. It wasn't a big deal when I went to back to Montreal.''

 

NO FACING PENNY

 

One player the Marlins won't have to worry about facing this week is former teammate Brad Penny, who went to Los Angeles along with Choi in the Lo Duca trade.

 

Penny, who hasn't picked up a baseball since lasting just 14 pitches in his second start with Los Angeles eight days ago, has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 9, with a sore right biceps.

 

''The way I feel today, I'm pretty close,'' said Penny, who can be activated Aug. 24.

 

TAKE THAT, SAUSAGE

 

Pittsburgh's Randall Simon made news when he took out one of Miller Park's famous racing sausages with his bat last year. But Marlins coach Perry Hill took on the wieners at their own game Saturday, outrunning them from the dugout to his position in the first-base box.

 

''I smoked 'em,'' Hill said after the hot-dog stunt. ``That was a 52-year-old man running there. Thirty years ago, I could fly. I blew them away.''

 

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sports/9412467.htm

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