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Lo Duca settles in with Marlins


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Faced with a situation many players dread, Florida Marlins catcher Paul Lo Duca tries to keep cool while he waits for a pitch he likes.

 

He's house-hunting.

 

"It's a little scary picking out a house without my wife," Lo Duca says.

 

Wife Sonia and their infant daughter are back home in San Antonio and will join Lo Duca at spring training March 3. The family can afford to put down roots in South Florida because he has a new $18 million, three-year contract.

 

Lo Duca is grateful for stability after being traded by Los Angeles to Florida last July. He had spent his entire 12-year professional career in the Dodgers' organization and cried after being dealt.

 

"You get the feeling you're not wanted," he says. "Then again, you go to a team that wants you. You get over it after a while, and I couldn't be happier to be here now."

 

The Marlins are glad to have the two-time All-Star, who made an immediate impact following the trade. He flew to Miami and arrived at the stadium with a game under way, then hit the first pitch he saw in a Florida uniform for a two-run, pinch-hit homer to put his team ahead.

 

"It was probably my best moment in professional baseball," Lo Duca says. "It was neat. I wish we would have won the game, but it was something I'll always remember."

 

There was further bonding with his new teammates in September, when Lo Duca rode out Hurricane Frances with several other players and their families at third baseman Mike Lowell's home.

 

Since 2003, when the Marlins won the World Series, their clubhouse has ranked among the loosest in baseball. The team chemistry quickly impressed Lo Duca.

 

"It's like a minor league clubhouse," he says. "Guys call you to go out to dinner and play cards at night. There are temptations in the major leagues, so that's big. For you to stay in and play cards instead of going out and having a drink, I'll take that any time. From day one I walked in the clubhouse, it was like I had been there awhile."

 

Lo Duca hit well for Florida until September, but played with a broken finger down the stretch and batted just .179 in the final five weeks. Still, he finished with a .286 average and 13 homers, and he led NL catchers with 80 RBIs. His work behind the plate drew praise from Florida's young pitchers and manager Jack McKeon.

 

When the Marlins headed to the practice fields for their first full-squad workout Tuesday, Lo Duca was the first one out of the clubhouse. McKeon figures his catcher will provide stronger leadership than in 2004.

 

"It took him awhile to get acclimated," McKeon says. "You don't want to be a rah-rah guy when you're coming into a new environment. Now he can take charge."

 

He'll be the Marlins' fifth opening-day catcher in as many years, following Charles Johnson, Mike Redmond, Ivan Rodriguez and Ramon Castro.

 

With Lo Duca eligible for arbitration during the offseason and due a big raise, there were doubts as to whether the Marlins would retain him. But he signed a multiyear deal Jan. 12 after general manager Admin Beinfest and owner Jeffrey Loria promised a team with playoff potential in 2005.

 

They backed up that pledge by signing free-agent slugger Carlos Delgado two weeks later.

 

"I wanted to stay here," Lo Duca says. "Admin and Mr. Loria told me they were going to commit to winning, and they did. When they signed Carlos, it was topping on the cake."

 

Lo Duca has a new home. Now he just needs a house.

http://www.the-dispatch.com/apps/pbcs.dll/...835&cachetime=5

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He was just on with Boog and spoke well of Mota and the Marlins organization. Said he's been working out all off-season to improve his endurance.

692407[/snapback]

 

Hopefully Jack has been reading RFerry's posts and will utilize DiFelice judiciously throughout the season so Paulie is fresh for our pennant run come September.

 

:)

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"It was probably my best moment in professional baseball," Lo Duca says. "It was neat. I wish we would have won the game, but it was something I'll always remember."

I'll never forget that day. That was so awesome. Stupid Sledge :thumbdown

692403[/snapback]

More like:

 

Stupid Manzy :thumbdown

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Guest FlummoxedLummox

Houses down here are a fortune and the people are mean and bad drivers, I don't understand why anyone would want to buy a house here. :plain692497[/snapback]

Dude, compared to LA we live in driving heaven, plus you could buy three houses in South Florida for one house there.

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He was just on with Boog and spoke well of Mota and the Marlins organization. Said he's been working out all off-season to improve his endurance.

692407[/snapback]

 

Hopefully Jack has been reading RFerry's posts and will utilize DiFelice judiciously throughout the season so Paulie is fresh for our pennant run come September.

 

:)

692412[/snapback]

:lol

If the backup is DiFelice or Treanor, McKeon should throw Paulie out there for every inning of every game

 

 

P.S. I'm sure LoDuca won't have any problems finding a nice home. He's the third highest paid player on the team.

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Good to know he likes it here. the team is awsome, who cant love it? the guys are real cool with each other, you can tell by how they mess with each other and hang out. He fits in real well too, like part of the family. Lo Duca is great and has real potential. I cant wait to see things from him. Its great that his greatest moment in baseball was with the Marlins. :arms

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