Born in Brooklyn and having played the past season and a
half in Queens, one would assune that Mets catcher Paul
LoDuca would have fond, long-time memories of his hometown. However, up until Aug. 24, the former-All Star had never played
a game in Brooklyn, as his family moved to Arizona when he was a toddler.
“It feels really neat to get a chance to play in Brooklyn. I have a lot of family here; my uncle lives about two miles
from here (in Bensonhurst) actually,” said the 35-year-old LoDuca, who is hitting .269 with 41 RBIs. “I got a
chance to see him and a lot of other people I haven’t seen in a while. It was really great to have them all here today.”
Playing in two games for the Brooklyn Cyclones as part of a rehab assignment
after he strained his right hamstring on Aug. 12, the veteran went 2-for-5 with a homer and a walk.
LoDuca’s focus during his time in Coney Island was on getting in his swings and making sure he was ready to help
the Mets stave off the surging Phillies and attempt a repeat as National League East champions.
“These guys are all over the place,” he said. “I’m
still getting my timing back and haven’t seen much live pitching lately, but I still noticed it. I could have walked
two or three times today, but I wanted to swing the bat. I think I’m 100 percent now and I really want to get back and
do what I was doing before.”
Rather than go through the motions like most big leaguers trying to
get back in shape, LoDuca was thrilled to play in Brooklyn and share his knowledge with his temporary teammates.
“This is a great atmosphere,” he said. “These kids don’t
know it, but it only gets downhill from here. When I was first coming up, I could count how many people were in the stands.
It doesn’t get much better than playing in a place like this when you’re just coming up.”
While the Cyclones would lose both games that LoDuca played in, the veteran
believes he was rejuvenated by his stay in Brooklyn and only sees good things from them in the future.
“This team has so much talent. It was really cool hanging out with
them; they asked me so many questions. It makes me remember how I felt when I was chasing this dream. This is something that
I’ll remember for a while. Seeing how much fun they have was a lot of fun for me, I needed it,” said LoDuca,
who received a standing ovation every time he stepped to the plate. “I just told Fonzie (‘Clones manager Edgar
Alfonzo) that they’ll start winning again as soon as I get out of here. I’m just a jinx I guess.