Mets catcher Paul LoDuca has been an All-Star, an MVP candidate and a playoff starter — so when he says he likes what he sees in the Cyclones, ya gotta believe.
“This team has so much talent, it was really neat hanging out with them,” LoDuca said after his two-game Cyclone “career” began and ended with rehab starts in the doubleheader on Aug. 24.
The Cyclones were swept, but LoDuca still liked the first-place team’s chances in the post-season.
“I told Fonzie [Cyclones manager Edgar Alfonzo] that they’ll start winning again as soon as I get out of here. I’m just a jinx I guess. I talked to the guys for about an hour today and I told them to keep working hard and they’ll do whatever they want in this sport. They’re in the middle of a pennant race now, and I know they’ll come out strong, as soon as I’m out of here.”
LoDuca went 2-for-5 with a homer in his two games — and he was lucky to do that well.
“These [pitchers] 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, but I wanted to swing the bat.”
Ironically, despite being born in Brooklyn and playing in Flushing the past season and half, the Mets catcher had never played a professional game in Brooklyn, thanks to a family that moved him to Arizona as a toddler.
Landing on the disabled list after straining his right hamstring on Aug. 12, LoDuca was grateful to get his swing back in his hometown and even wished that he could have played there when he was in the minors over a decade ago.
“This is a great atmosphere,” said LoDuca, who didn’t turn down autograph-seeking fans before the games. “These kids don’t know it, but it only gets downhill from here. I told them 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.”