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DODGERS NOTEBOOK: DODGERS SAY LO DUCA IS ALL-STAR WORTHY.

Byline: Brian Dohn Staff Writer

PHOENIX - Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca wasn't talking to the media about his second consecutive All-Star snub, but that didn't stop some of his teammates from coming to his defense.

Despite ranking first among catchers with a .318 average, 88 hits, 35 runs scored and 21 doubles, Lo Duca was bypassed by National League manager Bob Brenly in favor of Diamondbacks catcher Damian Miller and San Francisco's Benito Santiago. New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza was voted in by the fans.

The All-Star Game is July 9 at Miller Park in Milwaukee.

The moves obviously rankled members inside the Dodgers clubhouse, who spoke about it before the first-place Dodgers and second-place Diamondbacks opened a three-game series Monday at Bank One Ballpark.

``Lo Duca's got a legitimate gripe,'' Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros said. ``That? That's a joke. When you take three guys, he should have been one of them. I understand taking your own guy. That's a right Bob Brenly has. He won the division, won the world championship.

``But Lo Duca, we know how important he is to this ballclub, and arguably he's probably been the most important player on this team just in the fact that if he goes down, we don't have anybody to replace him on a lengthy basis.''

Lo Duca, who also is 10th in the league in batting and coming off a season in which he batted .320 with 25 homers and 90 RBI, was hitting 43 points higher than Miller and 45 points higher than Santiago.

Lo Duca was third among catchers with 36 RBI, equaling Miller's output and two fewer than Santiago. Piazza was batting .275 with 15 homers, 46 RBI, 33 runs scored and 12 doubles.

``Paul Lo Duca's having a great year,'' said Brenly, also Miller's manager with the Diamondbacks. ``There's no question about that. So is Larry Walker. So is Brian Giles. I could go on and on. You could pick an All-Star team from the guys that were left off the All-Star team.''

There is still an outside chance Lo Duca could be added to the team, but another position player already on the roster would have to miss the game due to personal decision or injury. If that happened, the Dodgers would lobby hard to add Lo Duca.

The Dodgers already have All-Star representatives in right fielder Shawn Green and pitchers Eric Gagne and Odalis Perez.

``You could make a strong case for (pitcher) Kazuhisa Ishii,'' Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. ``You could make an even stronger case for Paul Lo Duca.''

--Green day-to-day: Green, who jammed his left thumb in a collision with center fielder Dave Roberts on Saturday, missed back-to-back starts for the first time since he joined the Dodgers prior to the 2000 season. His thumb is tender, and it took Green just a few swings off a batting tee a few hours before the game Monday to decide he couldn't make the start.

Green said the pressure of the bat resting on the thumb caused irritation, as did the impact of hitting a baseball. He said X-rays were not taken and didn't think they would be necessary.

``I've broken this twice before so I know the difference,'' Green said. ``I'm hoping for (today). If it improves as much as it did (Monday), I should be in good shape. This is a big series for us. I'm hoping to get back in their (today) and contribute. When you have a problem once or twice, it doesn't take much to mess it up again.''

--Odds and ends: Dodgers second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, who suffered a mild concussion when he was kneed in the back of the head during a collision with right fielder Brian Jordan in Sunday's loss, was out of the lineup and is day to day. Jeff Reboulet made his fourth start of the season at second base. ... Right-hander Darren Dreifort (elbow surgery) will throw in the bullpen today and throw another batting-practice session Friday, but the Dodgers continue to say no time frame is set for the rehabilitating right-hander's return. ... Shortstop Joel Guzman, who signed a $2.25 million contract with the Dodgers last July, was promoted from the rookie Gulf Coast League (Vero Beach, Fla.) to the rookie Pioneer League (Great Falls, Mont.). He was batting .233 (7 for 30) with two RBI in nine games.

DODGERS vs. ARIZONA

Time: 7:05 p.m., Bank One Ballpark.

TV/Radio: FSN2; 1150-AM, 1330-AM (Spanish).

Matchup: Dodgers LH Omar Daal (6-3, 3.63 ERA) went from biceps tendinitis to a sore groin, but he was deemed ready to start and will in the middle game of the series against Diamondbacks RH Rick Helling (7-5, 4.35). Daal is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA against Arizona this season, and was 26-31 in parts of three seasons in the desert. Helling is 0-4 with a 7.62 ERA in his career against the Dodgers.

- Brian Dohn

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Jul 2, 2002
Words:836
Previous Article:BRIEFCASE MILLS, DREAMWORKS FORM NEW ALLIANCE.
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