Lo Duca earns Dodger of the Week honors
From spring training Paul Lo Duca has performed well. Even after missing 31 games with various injuries, Lo Duca has been hitting well and playing defensive well. From May 21-28 Lo Duca has stood out on the Dodgers.
Paul Lo Duca toiled in the Dodger organization since 1992. He excelled at every level, hitting .300. Because the Dodgers had Mike Piazza, Charles Johnson, and Todd Hundley, they did not pay much attention to Lo Duca. Lo Duca is small, so many people were concerned that Lo Duca would get hurt catching. Although Lo Duca spent most of the 1999 season in Los Angeles, the Dodger publicity department misspelled his name. Last year Lo Duca thought about quitting baseball and going home to help run a restaurant, but his family would not hear of such foolishness.
After the Dodgers did not re-sign Todd Hundley, many Dodger fans and the media were concerned about the Dodgers' catching situation. Neither Kevin Malone nor Jim Tracy wavered about saying Chad Kreuter and Paul Lo Duca will share the catching duties.
I was not worried about Paul Lo Duca doing the catching. Lo Duca had caught my interest when he first came to the Dodgers in June 1998. I liked his quickness behind the plate, his short stroke, and his intensity. When the Dodgers traded for Todd Hundley, I was disappointed because I felt Lo Duca deserved the opportunity.
This year Lo Duca received his opportunity to play regularly. He performed the same before and after spending a month on the disabled list with strained hamstring and oblique muscle. Defensively he has been spectacular as a catcher. Entering Friday's game, Lo Duca had thrown out 46 percent of the potential base stealers. He has committed only one error and allowed only one passed ball. In Eric Karros' absence Lo Duca has been playing first base though he had not played first base before, and he has not committed an error.
Offensively Lo Duca has been remarkable. Entering Friday's game, Lo Duca has batted .382 with five home runs and seventeen RBI. Last Tuesday Jim Tracy moved Lo Duca into the leadoff position. Since then, the Dodgers have won six and lost two. Lo Duca has an on-base percentage of .412. On Memorial Day Lo Duca had six hits becoming the first Dodger to do so since Willie Davis on May 24, 1973.
Paul Lo Duca is an inspiration to many people because he toiled for a long time in Dodger minor league system. Lo Duca is inspired by his late mother. Luci Lo Duca, who died from ovarian cancer, threw white pinto beans for young Paul to hit. Paul has his mother's name on his equipment. Lo Duca says he has his own angel on his shoulder. The way Lo Duca has performed has made him popular with Dodger fans.