Paul Lo Duca

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Paul Lo Duca
PaulLoDuca 20040516.jpg
Catcher
Born: (1972-04-12) April 12, 1972 (age 42)
Brooklyn, New York
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 21, 1998 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 2008 for the Florida Marlins
Career statistics
Batting average .286
Home runs 80
Runs batted in 481
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Paul Anthony Lo Duca (born April 12, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York) is a television personality and a former Major League Baseball catcher. Previously, Lo Duca played for the Los Angeles Dodgers (19982004), Florida Marlins (2004–2005, 2008), New York Mets (20062007), and Washington Nationals (2008). He later became an analyst for the TVG Network analyzing horse races.

Collegiate career[edit]

Lo Duca walked on to the baseball team at Glendale Community College (AZ) after he was not recruited or drafted out of high school. He hit .449 and .461 in his two years at the community college before transferring to Arizona State University.[1] In 1993 (the one year he played at ASU) Lo Duca was named The Sporting News Player of the Year, setting school records with a .446 batting average and 129 hits. He also was named a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, and his 37-game hitting streak is the second longest in school history. He was named ASU "On Deck Circle" Most Valuable Player; other winners include Dustin Pedroia, Willie Bloomquist, Ike Davis, and Barry Bonds.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Despite his college success, Lo Duca spent many years in the minor leagues after being drafted in the 25th round of the 1993 Amateur Draft. He spent the 1995 off-season abroad with the Adelaide Giants in the Australian Baseball League,[3] but finally achieved a breakthrough year with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001 at age 29. Lo Duca drew comparisons to Dodgers predecessors Mike Scioscia and Mike Piazza; all three were capable and popular everyday catchers who were homegrown through the Dodgers' organization, and all three are of Italian-American ancestry. Lo Duca's primary strength was as a contact hitter, like Scioscia, but unlike the power-hitting Piazza.

After becoming an everyday big league player, Lo Duca was named to four All-Star Games. In 2002 he was one of the best contact hitters in the majors – only Jason Kendall struck out less often and no one had a better percentage of swings and misses.[4] In 2003 Lo Duca's 25-game hitting streak was the second longest in Dodgers history and defensively he ranked first in the National League in throwing out baserunners. In 2004 he led National League catchers in RBI. In the field in 2004 he allowed 93 stolen bases, more than any other catcher in Major League Baseball. He was traded from Los Angeles along with Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota to the Marlins for Hee Seop Choi, Brad Penny, and minor league pitching prospect Bill Murphy, at the 2004 trading deadline. Later, he was traded to the Mets for two minor league prospects: pitcher Gaby Hernandez and outfielder Dante Brinkley. This was part of a Marlins "market correction" where most of their high-paid players were traded away after the 2005 season.

Lo Duca was a member of the 2006 All-Star Team, and the Mets finished that year with a 97-65 record and made the postseason (his first playoff experience). Lo Duca hit .318, his highest average since 2001. He also had a .355 on-base percentage, a career high.

Lo Duca collected his 1,000th career hit on May 30, 2007 off Barry Zito. His batting average fell 48 points that year to .272, and he played only 119 games after making a trip to the disabled list in August.

Lo Duca with the Nationals in 2008.

After the 2007 season Lo Duca agreed to a $5 million, one-year deal with the Washington Nationals on December 10. He was released by the Nationals on July 31, 2008, and on August 8 he signed a minor league deal to return to the Florida Marlins organization.[5] LoDuca was called up on August 16.[6]

He became a free agent after the 2008 season and did not play in 2009. In June 2009 he joined TVG Network as an analyst, and began working on 2009 Belmont Stakes day.

On January 19, 2010, Lo Duca signed with the Colorado Rockies. His role with the club was as a backup catcher, and occasionally to play first base and the outfield.[7][8]

On May 29, 2010, he was released, and in June he returned to work for TVG. He is on site daily at Monmouth Park during its 50-day elite meet where he also serves as an on-site analyst.

Mitchell Report[edit]

Lo Duca with the Mets

On December 13, 2007, Lo Duca was named in the Mitchell Report in his connection with human growth hormone (HGH). Lo Duca allegedly received the HGH from former clubhouse attendant and known steroids dealer, Kirk Radomski, who produced three checks from Lo Duca totaling $3200. Federal investigators also seized handwritten notes from Lo Duca to Radomski during a search of Radomski's house. The report also claims that Lo Duca introduced several other baseball players to Radomski, including Adam Riggs, Kevin Brown, Eric Gagné, and Matt Herges.[9]

The Mitchell Report cites an October 2003 meeting among Dodgers officials that included discussion of the possible use of steroids by some players. The notes of the meeting say:

Steroids aren't being used anymore on him. Big part of this. Might have some value to trade ... Florida might have interest. ... Got off the steroids ... Took away a lot of hard line drives. ... Can get comparable value back would consider trading. ... If you do trade him, will get back on the stuff and try to show you he can have a good year. That's his makeup. Comes to play. Last year of contract, playing for 05.[10]

Six months later the Dodgers traded Lo Duca to the Florida Marlins. Mitchell did not identify the Dodgers officials involved, nor if other players were traded because they stopped taking steroids.

On January 9, 2013, in response to the Baseball Hall of Fame announcement in which no players were elected, Lo Duca acknowledged his steroids use, tweeting "I took PEDs and I'm not proud of it..but people that think you can take a shot or a pill and play like the legends on that ballot need help."

Personal life[edit]

Lo Duca was born in Brooklyn, New York, but was raised in Glendale, Arizona, and attended Apollo High School, after attending St Simon and Jude middle school. On August 7, 2006, the New York media leaked a story about his divorce suit with his wife, Sonia (Flores) Lo Duca, a former Playboy model.[11] The leak by the New York Post led Lo Duca to threaten to stop giving interviews to the media. Lo Duca had been "one of the most helpful and available players in the Mets clubhouse," and has since resumed giving interviews, as long as they pertain to baseball.[12] Lo Duca has a daughter, Bella Lucia, with his estranged wife.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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