New Blue Jay Thomson rips Lo Duca's catching

TORONTO -- John Thomson was surprisingly candid Wednesday
about one of the reasons he chose the Toronto Blue Jays over the
Mets: He didn't want to pitch to New York catcher Paul Lo Duca.

Paul Lo Duca Lo Duca

John Thomson Thomson

Thomson agreed to a $500,000, one-year contract with the Blue
Jays on Tuesday and will get a chance to win a spot in their
rotation during spring training. The right-hander said the Mets
also offered a major league deal, but he wasn't interested.

"As far as just looking at Paul Lo Duca across the field, I'm
not really into how he acts behind the plate," Thomson said on a
conference call. "I know a bit about [Toronto catcher] Gregg Zaun
and I know he wants to win and he's not going to let anything get
in his way to do that, and I like that.

"And then with Vernon Wells in center field, I'm not really
concerned about the outfield with him out there. ... Just watching
the Mets' outfield, if Cliff Floyd is still there it's not a real
good fit for him out there. He can hit the ball, but as far as
defense, he's a little shaky.

"I just liked what's happening in Toronto."

Floyd is a free agent and almost certainly won't be back with
the Mets next season.

Thomson pitched for the Mets in 2002, going 2-6 with a 4.31 ERA
in nine starts. Lo Duca and Floyd weren't with New York at the

Thomson said the Mets initially offered a minor league deal
before offering him a major league contract. He said Toronto
offered more money in performance bonuses, but that wasn't a

Thomson will get $1.5 million if he makes the Opening Day
roster. General manager J.P. Ricciardi said Thomson can earn as
much as $4 million based on how many starts he makes. Thomson went
2-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 18 games, including 15 starts, for the
Atlanta Braves last season.

"As far as just looking at Paul Lo Duca across the field, I'm
not really into how he acts behind the plate."
-- John Thomson

The 33-year-old Thomson pitched only 80 1/3 innings in 2006
because of mild fraying in his right shoulder and blister problems
on his throwing hand.

"Everybody else I was talking to was offering minor league
deals," said Thomson, whose last two seasons have been marred by

"A bunch of the teams were kind of leery about signing me
because of my shoulder problem that I had last year at the end of
the season. As of right now it's fine. It was fine at the end of
last year. There's nothing structurally wrong. I didn't have to
have surgery on it."

He asked Braves manager Bobby Cox to pitch in late September so
he could he prove his health.

"It was very important," Thomson said. "I sat down and said,
'Bobby, look, I'd like to get into a game toward the end of the

Thomson pitched a scoreless inning against the Mets on Sept. 27
with Atlanta leading 13-1 in the ninth -- his first appearance since
July 9.

"I threw nine pitches. I threw eight strikes and I got three
outs so I was pretty happy," Thomson said.

He said he's been told his spot in the rotation is his to lose
in spring training. He'll compete with Josh Towers, Casey Janssen
and Shaun Marcum for the two open slots behind ace Roy Halladay,
A.J. Burnett and Gustavo Chacin.

Thomson went 14-8 with a 3.72 ERA with Atlanta in 2004. He is
62-84 with a 4.69 ERA in 214 career games (210 starts) spanning
nine major league seasons. He also has pitched for Colorado and