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1/27/08 Washington Nationals' Weekend News Roundup...Lo Duca and Belliard Updates...

     Somewhere in the world tonight, the slightest bit of perspiration beaded up on Jesus Flores' forehead, as the Washington Nationals' twenty-three year old, second-year catcher read the news that Paul Lo Duca, the veteran catcher who signed with the Nationals in early December, (just days before his name was included on the list of P.E.D users released in the Mitchell Report), had suffered a "minor miniscus tear" according to an AP article at entitled, "Lo Duca's agent: Catcher to return from surgery in 3-6 weeks."

     The injury, first reported by's Bill Ladson in an article entitled, "Notes: Lo Duca suffers knee injury", on 1/25/08, occurred last week as Lo Duca trained in New York. It was originally described by Mr. Ladson as a "tweak" but the MRI taken during a doctor visit on Friday revealed the tear which may, according to the article, require further testing and possibly arthroscopic surgery.

      The ESPN/AP article suggests a 3-6 week recovery time for Lo Duca and quotes Nationals' GM Jim Bowden, who is also quoted by's Bill Ladson, in an article today at entitled, "Lo Duca could undergo knee surgery", where Mr. Bowden states:

           "Lo Duca's MRI showed an abnormal meniscus --
           possible tear...He will see Dr. [Benjamin] Shaffer tomorrow
           at 8 a.m. for further testing. If an operation is indicated, it
           will be arthroscopic, and the estimated recovery time
           would be 4-6 weeks with the expectation he could be
           ready for Opening Day."

     4-6 weeks? That's okay, Spring Training doesn't start until...Wait! What did he say about "Opening Day?" Spring Training starts in two weeks? Uh-Oh!! A staff comprised of young and recovering pitchers. A veteran, free agent catcher, who might possibly miss his first Spring Training with his new team. A second-year catcher who had never played above Class-A ball in the Minors before the Nationals chose him in the Rule 5 draft and were forced to keep him in the Majors all of last season...Ahhh! Washington Nationals baseball...Here we go again...

Another Bit of Nationals' News...

      ...This time from the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano Championship Series, where Washington Nationals' second baseman Ronnie Belliard did all he could, going 2 for 4 with a run scored in the Tigres del Licey's 2-1 loss in the Series' deciding game to the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano's 2008 Champion Aguilas Cibaenas.'s coverage, a paragraph and box score link included in an article entitled, "Friday's Caribbean leagues roundup", from 1/25/08 describes the victory and provides some background:

          "Rafael Furcal homered in the bottom of the eighth inning
          as the Aguilas edged the Tigres to capture their second
          straight championship. Mendy Lopez also went deep for
          Cibaenas, which has won nine titles in the last 13 years."

     Nelson Figueroa, 33, was the winning pitcher for Aguilas. A Brooklyn, New York born, Brandeis University educated, 6'1'', 180 lb righty, Figueroa worked 8.0 innings for the win, allowing just Belliard's run, and 1 walk, while striking out 9 batters. Pittsburgh Pirates' reliever Damaso Marte took the loss for Licey.

     Ronnie Belliard now heads to Florida for his second Spring Training with the Washington Nationals, this time as the starting second baseman, a result of Belliard's coming off the bench to claim the starting job in DC in '07 by hitting .290 with 35 doubles, 1 triple, 11 HR's and 85 RBI's in 147 games, earning himself a 2-year, $3.5 million dollar extension along the way.

*Lo Duca and Belliard Links* article entitled, "Lo Duca's agent: Catcher to return from surgery in 3-6 weeks" at's Bill Ladson's article, "Notes: Lo Duca suffers knee injury", at ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was's Bill Ladson's article, "Lo Duca could undergo knee surgery", at ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was's Dominican Winter League coverage, "Friday's Caribbean leagues roundup" at jsp&c_id=mlb