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Lo Duca looks forward to big things


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JUPITER, Fla. -- Passing Vero Beach on his drive to Spring Training in Jupiter brought back some memories for Paul Lo Duca. But the two-time All-Star catcher is glad to be a Marlin, and he is eager for his first full season in Florida.

 

The same gritty, heady style of play that made Lo Duca a fan favorite in Los Angeles has carried over to the Marlins.

 

Now signed for three seasons in Florida, Lo Duca is steadily becoming a visible presence in the clubhouse and is an expected performer behind the plate.

 

Still, after being in the Dodgers organization since 1993, it was a bit awkward for him to not pull off on the Vero Beach exits to Dodgertown. Instead, he kept heading south, to the Marlins' complex at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

 

"I drove right by Vero Beach when I came here," said Lo Duca, who traveled with a friend from his home in San Antonio, Tex. "It was different. I went to that Spring Training site for 11 or 12 years. I come over here and I almost set off the alarms. But it was neat. I'm glad to be here. I feel like I'm home. There is nothing strange."

 

Lo Duca isn't joking about nearly setting off alarms. Unfamiliar with Roger Dean Stadium's layout, he went into the wrong door to the clubhouse, and read a sign that said: "Do not set off the alarm."

 

Quickly, the 31-year-old was redirected to the proper place to check in. Greeting him at his locker were a couple of jerseys with his old No. 16 on them.

 

At the time he was acquired from the Dodgers last July, Lo Duca was given No. 14 because infielder Wil Cordero was already wearing No. 16. Now that Cordero has departed for Washington, Lo Duca's transformation as a Marlin is complete, topped off with a familiar number.

 

"I got my number back, it's cool," Lo Duca said. "I'm excited."

 

Bringing back Lo Duca, who batted .286 with 13 homers and 80 RBIs last year, is one reason the Marlins are beaming with confidence this spring. The team has revised itself from a year ago, adding slugger Carlos Delgado and veteran pitcher Al Leiter, along with several established relievers.

 

While the division-rival Atlanta Braves have claimed 13 straight division titles, Lo Duca feels the Marlins are a team to beat in the division and the National League.

 

"You have to beat the Braves, they've won how many division titles in a row?" Lo Duca said. "The Mets, obviously, have gotten a lot better. Washington, when they were the Expos, always was a thorn in the Marlins' side. And Philadelphia is always competitive, too. It's going to be a tough division.

 

"For us, anything but to get to the playoffs, or win the [NL] East, is a disappointment, with the guys we have in this clubhouse."

 

Actually, Lo Duca is of the belief that the Marlins were destined for the playoffs in 2004. But their late-season push was spun off track by a series of hurricanes that ravaged the state in September. The onslaught of the powerful storms caused the Marlins to play their final 30 games over 27 days, with three doubleheaders slated in an 11-day period.

 

On Sept. 14, the Marlins were only 2 1/2 games out of the Wild Card race. But the compressed schedule of games eventually caught up to a club that finished 83-79 and in third place in the NL East.

 

"I really feel if the hurricanes hadn't hit last year, things would have been different," Lo Duca said.

 

All things being equal in 2005, with the restocked Marlins roster, Lo Duca feels a postseason run is very realistic. He points to the additions of Delgado, Leiter, relievers Todd Jones, Antonio Alfonseca, John Riedling and Jim Mecir. Add in a healthy Tim Spooneybarger to the bullpen, and the sky is the limit.

 

"With Carlos in the middle of that lineup, and the four guys we got to help the bullpen, and a healthy Spooney, it's a huge difference," he said. "If we can stay healthy, I think we can be very, very, very good.

 

"People are going to gun for you, but that's good. You have to have that cockiness. You have to have that arrogance. I think that's good. You can't rest on your laurels. It's going to be fun."

 

This is gonna be an awesome season :thumbup .

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This years club is so different from the 2003 club. The 03 club had a lot of heart and they didnt seem to believe in themselves early on. They basically gained confidence as the year progressed and they shocked the world. This years club has the nucleus of a world champ with some added stars. This is reminiscent of the 97 club who is expected to be a good team. This will defintely be a fun year.

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Dear Paulie,

 

Please keep from sucking after August as you have done for your entire career.

 

Thanks,

Marlins fans

 

P.S. Can you block the plate a little better too? Appreciate it! Good luck!

689608[/snapback]

 

So should we just assume you'll be rooting against LoDuca, Gonzalez & Encarnacion all year??? I suppose you'll get some perverse satisfaction when and if they suck...that way you can tell everyone what a statistical genius you are.

 

Is it alright if the rest of root for these guys?

 

Just wondering...Thanks!

 

:thumbup

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Dear Paulie,

 

Please keep from sucking after August as you have done for your entire career.

 

Thanks,

Marlins fans

 

P.S. Can you block the plate a little better too? Appreciate it! Good luck!

689608[/snapback]

 

So should we just assume you'll be rooting against LoDuca, Gonzalez & Encarnacion all year??? I suppose you'll get some perverse satisfaction when and if they suck...that way you can tell everyone what a statistical genius you are.

 

Is it alright if the rest of root for these guys?

 

Just wondering...Thanks!

 

:thumbup

689609[/snapback]

 

pwned :D

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rferry doesn't like to believe that maybe the hurricanes did have an effect on LoDuca.. I'd like to see you crouch behind the plate for 30 games in 27 days or whatever it was at the tail end of a season. If you don't think it had an effect on him, you're being nieve.

 

Hmm.. he hits .337 (.408 OBP) in August for us.. and then when he has to play a ridiculous amount of games in a row at the most demanding position on the field at the END of the season, he starts slumping in September. Who woulda thought?!

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Dear Paulie,

 

Please keep from sucking after August as you have done for your entire career.

 

Thanks,

Marlins fans

 

P.S. Can you block the plate a little better too? Appreciate it! Good luck!

689608[/snapback]

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought this.

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Hmm.. he hits .337 (.408 OBP) in August for us.. and then when he has to play a ridiculous amount of games in a row at the most demanding position on the field at the END of the season, he starts slumping in September. Who woulda thought?!

689704[/snapback]

I wouldnt have thought ... :plain

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this year is going to be so different, and fun. it is true the hurricanes(damn them) had alot of impact on Lo Duca. Thats a shame. This year everyone is pumped and ready to show everyone what they can do. Hopefully they can maintain the expectations, because they can be really good and itd be a shame if they dont rise to that. I have no doubts however, I believe this year is going to be awsome. Go Fish!

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The hurricanes and pinky injury might be a useful excuse if he hasn't suffered a significant second-half slump FOR EVERY YEAR OF HIS MAJOR LEAGUE CAREER! For a guy with close to six years of service, that's a strong trend.

 

Based on past years, LoDuca starts his second-half slump earlier. Most likely it was the trade to a new team invigorated his game for a short while.

 

P.S. I'm expecting big things from Alex Gonzalez. Call it irritational. And I would be thrilled by LoDuca and Encarnacion helping the team win, but as far as I'm concerned they hurt the Marlins more than they currently help with their undeserved contracts.

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Dear Paulie,

 

Please keep from sucking after August as you have done for your entire career.

 

Thanks,

Marlins fans

 

P.S. Can you block the plate a little better too? Appreciate it! Good luck!

689608[/snapback]

 

BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!

 

Willingham cured cancer and solved world hunger...while eating breakfast!

 

Wait 'till he moves on to lunch....

 

 

I just had to :cool .

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Dear Paulie,

 

Please keep from sucking after August as you have done for your entire career.

 

Thanks,

Marlins fans

 

P.S. Can you block the plate a little better too? Appreciate it! Good luck!

689608[/snapback]

 

BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!

 

Willingham cured cancer and solved world hunger...while eating breakfast!

 

Wait 'till he moves on to lunch....

 

 

I just had to :cool .

689881[/snapback]

and still had time to lead the minors in OBP

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For the lo duca haters here, I totally agree lets ditch lo duca and trade for castro and redmond so we can have the winning castro, treanor, and redmond tandem of last season. Or of course everyone here loves willingham so much (as do I), but you think lo duca sucks on defense lets see how well willingham will do. Willingham is never goign to be an everyday catcher in the bigs (if anything he'll be an OFer)

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For the lo duca haters here, I totally agree lets ditch lo duca and trade for castro and redmond so we can have the winning castro, treanor, and redmond tandem of last season.

690131[/snapback]

Fine by me. That means we we still afford a better outfielder than Enc/Conine or better starter than Valdes!

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For the lo duca haters here, I totally agree lets ditch lo duca and trade for castro and redmond so we can have the winning castro, treanor, and redmond tandem of last season.

690131[/snapback]

Fine by me. That means we we still afford a better outfielder than Enc/Conine or better starter than Valdes!

690145[/snapback]

 

I would agree with you if the alternative to lo duca is someone fairly good. Willingham could get a shot but if he fails then someone decent needs to be backing him up so we dotn have a repeat of last year with castro

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