NATIONALS NOTEBOOK

No Suspension For Lo Duca Over Report

By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yesterday's announcement of a new agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' association over implementing recommendations outlined in the Mitchell report brought resolution to one personnel issue facing the Washington Nationals. As the team suspected, catcher Paul Lo Duca, like other players named in the report as users of performance-enhancing drugs, will not be suspended for his alleged role.

Approached by reporters at his locker before last night's game, Lo Duca declined to comment, and Manager Manny Acta also deflected a question about the decision.

Still, Lo Duca was out of the Nationals' lineup last night, replaced by Jesús Flores, despite the fact he is one of the few Nationals hitters with a history of success against Braves starter Tim Hudson (7 for 23 in his career). Also out of the lineup was Felipe López, who was replaced in left field by Willie Harris.

Lo Duca is outspoken by nature, and he said following Thursday night's loss to the Florida Marlins -- the Nationals' seventh straight -- that the Nationals were not playing with enough confidence and attitude.

Asked about those comments yesterday, Acta said: "I don't agree. We showed [Lo Duca's New York Mets] that at the end of the season last year, didn't we? He has a right to his opinion. I'm not going to tell him what to say to [the media]."

A Difference of Opinion

Is third baseman Ryan Zimmerman struggling at the plate, or merely the victim of bad luck and tough pitching? Acta believes it is the former. "He's chasing a lot of bad pitches," Acta said.

"He's falling into the other team's pitching plans, which is taking his power away. He's struggling right now."

However, Zimmerman disagreed, saying, "I feel fine. I'm hitting a couple of balls hard each night. . . . I'm not up there swinging at balls and striking out a lot. I'm having good at-bats and battling, and we've just run into some tough pitching."


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