08/16/2004 10:16 PM ET
Notes: Lo Duca's homecoming
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
|Paul Lo Duca discusses his return to Los Angeles before Monday's game. (Ben Platt/MLB.com)
LOS ANGELES -- Exchanging hugs and handshakes with former teammates was only part of Paul Lo Duca's emotional homecoming to Dodger Stadium.
Opening a three-game series in Los Angeles gives him another chance to say goodbye to people who touched his life for so long in other ways.
"These guys I'm going to see playing," said Lo Duca of his ex-teammates. "It's the people I see at the stadium who've helped me out. The parking guys are the people you want to say goodbye to."
As part of a major July 30 trade, Lo Duca swapped Dodger blue for Marlin black and teal. Today he felt like a stranger in his own house.
Arriving at the stadium early, he asked one more favor of his former team.
"It was a little strange," he said. "I asked the parking guy if I could still park in the lot."
Lo Duca didn't know where else to park, plus his wife was coming to the stadium, so, naturally, he pulled strings.
Sitting in the Marlins dugout two hours before the first pitch, Lo Duca said that he didn't know how he would react to the greeting he would receive from the fans. On the day he was traded, he openly wept in front of reports.
"I don't know if I'm going to laugh or cry," he said.
What he does know is that he appreciates the attention he receives from the fans. He's one of those players who recognizes and is flattered to see fans in the stadium wearing his No. 16 Dodger jersey.
"They pay our salaries," he said. "I'm not an idiot. You have young kids out there, and their parents are paying $100 for a jersey. I was a fan at one time. I was the type of kid who went to games. I liked players growing up. These people work 9-to-5 jobs, and we've got the life. We're getting paid a lot of money to do it. I'm very fortunate. People who come out here and pay $10 for bleacher seats, they deserve [an all-out effort]. I appreciate all they've done."
Marlins pitcher Josh Beckett calls Lo Duca a "gamer." What strikes him is Lo Duca's selflessness, as evidenced on Sunday at Milwaukee.
After Brewer Russell Branyan crushed a 458-foot homer off the scoreboard at Miller Park, Lo Duca consulted with Beckett and apologized for the pitch he'd called. Beckett took full responsibility, because he threw the pitch.
Reunion with Penny, Choi: Former Marlins Brad Penny and Hee-Seop Choi ventured over to the Florida clubhouse before Monday's game.
Penny, who is on the disabled list with a right biceps strain, said that he is fine and that he shouldn't be out too long.
In a 15-minute conversation with Marlins manager Jack McKeon, Penny flexed the muscle, showing that he has range of motion.
"Penny told me how much he enjoys it out here," said McKeon. "He ain't going to stay out too long."
In his locker in the Los Angeles clubhouse, Choi has a "Big Choi" sign that a fan in Miami had given him.
Choi's parents and sister are living in South Florida until the end of the season. His sister is attending Nova Southeastern University in Broward County but will transfer to a school in Los Angeles.
McKeon believes that Choi, who draws a lot of walks and strikes out often, will become a productive hitter in time.
"I told him to swing the bat," he said of his former first baseman, "but [to] wait till we leave."
"Best Damn" appearances: The Marlins are getting plenty of national exposure in Los Angeles. Dontrelle Willis and Juan Pierre appeared on FSN's "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" on Monday. Mike Lowell and Jeff Conine are scheduled to appear on Tuesday, and Josh Beckett or Carl Pavano on Wednesday.
Pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal joked that assistants are never invited to national shows, but noted that he has a natural hook for an appearance on "The Best Damn Sports Show Period."
In high school, Rosenthal played basketball against John Salley, one of the show's hosts.
The 6-foot-5 Rosenthal played center for Seventh Shores in Brooklyn when Salley played at Canarsie.
"He was real skinny then," said Rosenthal. "I tried to keep him as far away from the basket as I could, and box him out."
Radio changes: Because of conflicts with the Miami Dolphins, the Marlins have rescheduled some radio broadcasts.
Instead of airing on flagship station WQAM 560, two games have been moved to WAXY 790 AM: Aug. 21, at San Diego (10:05 p.m. ET) and Aug. 28, against the Rockies (6:05 p.m. ET). The overlapping of games with the Dolphins does not affect the games aired on Spanish radio WQBA 1140 AM.
Down on the farm: Triple-A Albuquerque suffered its fourth straight loss on Sunday, dropping a 2-1 decision to Iowa in 12 innings. Brian Banks, a reserve on the 2003 World Series championship team, belted his fifth home run. Left-handed reliever Franklyn Gracesqui made his first Isotopes appearance since May 20, working one-third of an inning without giving up a run. Gracesqui, who has been bothered by shoulder tendinitis since he was sent down, induced a flyout with the bases loaded. First baseman Larry Sutton, who is batting .373, is on the disabled list with back problems. ... Due to cancellations stemming from the damages caused by Hurricane Charley, Class A Jupiter is making up this weekend's series with the Daytona Beach Cubs on Monday and Tuesday.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.