By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
VIERA, Fla., March 17 -- Washington Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca, mentioned prominently in the report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball by former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell, expanded slightly on his apology Monday in the hours before the Nationals played his former team, the New York Mets.
When Lo Duca reported to camp last month, he offered an apology only for "mistakes in judgment." On Monday, facing New York reporters, he was a bit more specific when asked how he thought fans would react to him.
"I admitted it," Lo Duca said. "I made a mistake. It was something I did a long time ago. I apologized. I hope the fans take my apology, but I know there's going to be some that are going to be upset and I understand where they're coming from, too."
Lo Duca still has not discussed the details of the report as it pertains to him. He is now concerned with finding his way onto the field in a Grapefruit League game, and the club is holding him back. Lo Duca, coming back from January surgery on his left knee, caught in a minor league game Monday, and is scheduled to make his first appearance with the major league club Thursday night against Houston.
"I feel great," he said. "I want to play."Hill Throws Again
Right-hander Shawn Hill had his second bullpen session in three days, throwing 35 pitches, including his curveball. The assessment of pitching coach Randy St. Claire: "Very good."
"I wish I could throw him out there tomorrow," St. Claire said. "But I can't. Not in my heart I can't. Not in my heart or my brain."
Hill, trying to work through forearm soreness, could throw live batting practice Thursday. Manager Manny Acta, however, said he doesn't see a way Hill could be ready for Opening Night because he won't have logged enough innings. . . . Closer Chad Cordero retired the Mets in order on seven pitches in the ninth inning of a 7-3 loss Monday. Cordero has allowed one hit and no walks in six appearances, retiring 17 of 18 hitters this spring. . . .
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman went 2 for 4 as the designated hitter, his first action since March 11, when he experienced tightness in his right hip flexor. Zimmerman likely will play in the field Thursday. . . . Outfielder Elijah Dukes was originally in the lineup, but was pulled after he tested his strained right hamstring. Acta said he expects Dukes to be able to play Thursday.