Lo Duca expected to be ready for Opening Day after knee surgery

WASHINGTON -- Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca had
arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Monday and is expected to be
sidelined four to six weeks.

The operation was to repair a torn medial meniscus, and Lo Duca
will begin a rehabilitation program later this week.

"The surgery was successful. We expect him to be ready for
Opening Day," Washington general manager Jim Bowden wrote in an
e-mail to The Associated Press.

The Nationals' first regular-season game is March 30 at home
against the Atlanta Braves. Washington's pitchers and catchers are
scheduled to report to spring training in Viera, Fla., on Feb. 15.
If Lo Duca misses a large part of spring training, it would
decrease the amount of time he has to get comfortable with
Washington's pitching staff.

Lo Duca hurt himself during a workout last week. Neither his
agent nor the team has said exactly how he was injured.

He signed a $5 million, one-year deal as a free agent in
December, the biggest signing by the Nationals this offseason. He
was brought over from the New York Mets less than two weeks after
the Nationals traded their incumbent starting catcher, Brian Schneider, to the Mets.

Lo Duca hit .272 with nine homers and 54 RBIs for New York last
season, his second with the Mets.

In 10 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins and New York Mets,
Lo Duca has batted .288 with 80 homers and 466 RBIs. He was a
four-time All-Star from 2003-06.