Moment #19 – Paul Lo Duca and Endy Chavez rehab in Trenton
August 25 and August 26, 2007
It’s amazing how two different players can handle the same situation so differently.
Four-time Major League All-Star catcher Paul Lo Duca and outfielder Endy Chavez, a folk hero after making “The Catch” in the NLCS a year earlier, both rehabbed for the Mets on the road in Trenton back-to-back days.
Waterfront Park has seen a handful of rehab assignments from players on the opposing squad — Tony Armas, Jr. comes to mind as perhaps the most recent besides these — but none of the players had such a high profile as Lo Duca and Chavez.
Lo Duca had just rehabbed in his hometown with the Brooklyn Cyclones, and was initially expected to spend two days in Trenton. Fans hoping for an autograph, a smile, a wave, or anything resembling an acknowledgement of their presence on Earth were probably glad he cut his stay short.
The former Dodger and Marlin was all business during his stay, going straight to the bullpen to catch starter Jose Sanchez after leaving the visiting clubhouse, and going right back into the dugout to exchange a few fist pounds with his teammates for a day after returning. Fans who lined the third base side of the field hoping for an autograph from one of their favorites would go home disappointed.
He was greeted with a warm round of applause from the large Saturday crowd, many of whom were decked out in Mets apparel. He got almost as loud of a reaction when Thunder starter Chase Wright struck him out swinging in his first at-bat.
Lo Duca made two more plate appearances that day, collecting a single in Binghamton’s 7-0 loss to Trenton.
Following the game, Lo Duca kept his comments brief to the regular group of reporters in Trenton — no Mets writers came to cover the event.
“I feel great, I’m ready to go,” Lo Duca said.
“There were no tweaks at all, it’s just a matter of getting the rust out a little bit, but I felt good.”
As I mentioned, Lo Duca was initially expected to play in the next day’s game, but told us after the game that his hamstring felt good enough to skip the game, and that he’d be going straight to Shea Stadium.
For Wright, who’d get called back up after the season had ended, it was a good experience to face his first big league caliber hitter since he briefly appeared for the Yankees in April.
“I talked to him in the tunnel after the game, and he said that I did a good job and had good stuff,” Wright said.
“It’s exciting when you get to face a guy like that who’s been in the big leagues and knows how to hit. It’s a good challenge.”
With Lo Duca gone, it came as a surprise when I arrived at the ballpark to learn that the Mets had sent Chavez to rehab with their Double-A squad. While Lo Duca’s appearance was expected, nobody had thought Chavez was coming.
He was also recovering from a hamstring injury, and looked good after reaching base twice while playing about half of the game that the B-Mets won in 14 innings.
He also got some rather loud cheers, perhaps thanks to his taking about ten minutes before the game to sign autographs for some happy Mets fans.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com