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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Reason for Lo Duca to pick Nats: 'Getting to play the Mets 18 times'

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Catcher Paul Lo Duca agreed to a $5 million, one-year deal with the Washington Nationals because he felt wanted -- and because there will be plenty of chances to face his old club, the New York Mets.

At A "Lo" Point

Paul Lo Duca, who turns 36 in April, is now in the tutorial phase of his catching career. An illustration of his decline in 2007:

Batting average: .272
•  Lowest for any season in which he played 100+ games
On-base Pct.: .311
•  Lowest for any season in which he played 100+ games
Slugging Pct.: .378
•  Lowest since 2003
Games: 119
• Fewest since 2000

"I'm excited to be part of a team that's young and has a chance to win this division," Lo Duca said Tuesday after passing a physical to make the deal official. "The NL East is wide open."

Asked what his reasons were for choosing the Nationals, Lo Duca said they "wanted me more," and that he wanted to stay in the National League. Then he paused before adding with a smile: "getting to play the Mets 18 times."

Another former member of the Mets was introduced by the Nationals at the team's sales and marketing center: outfielder Lastings Milledge, who came over in the trade that sent catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Ryan Church to New York.

Lo Duca, a free agent who played for New York the past two seasons, gives the Nationals a veteran to replace Schneider behind the plate.

A four-time All-Star from 2003-06, Lo Duca hit .272 with nine homers and a .311 on-base percentage last season that was the lowest of any Mets regular -- and lower than Schneider's .326. Lo Duca and Schneider each drove in 54 runs.

Lo Duca, who will turn 36 during the first month of the season, and Nationals manager Manny Acta were in New York together in 2006, when Acta was the Mets third-base coach.

In 10 major league seasons with the Dodgers, Marlins and Mets, Lo Duca has batted .288 with 80 homers and 466 RBIs.

"He has never been with a losing team. Ever," Washington general manager Jim Bowden said. "He wins. That's what he does."

The 22-year-old Milledge hit .272 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 59 games with the Mets in 2007.

"I'm here to win, and anything else is really a failure to me," Milledge said.