Lo Duca set to make Nationals debut

Lo Duca set to make Nationals debut

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca, recovering from offseason surgery on his left knee, admitted he was upset he didn't see his name in the starting lineup against the Mets on Monday, so he went into manager Manny Acta's office for an explanation.

Acta said the team wants Lo Duca to be in a "more controlled environment" and make sure that his left knee is OK when he is hitting and catching behind the plate. Lo Duca had surgery in January, and both he and Acta said the knee is 100 percent. Lo Duca will play in his first Major League exhibition game against the Dodgers on Thursday.

"We have more control of what's going on [in Minor League games]," Acta said. "We want to stretch him out before we bring him in on the Major League side. He is going to be over here on Thursday.

"[We are happy with his day-to-day stuff], but we don't want him to dictate how we do things. We don't want him to get overly happy and have a setback. This is the way it was drawn up by our trainer, and it's working well. We are going to stick with it."

After the talk with Acta, Lo Duca said he understood why he didn't play against his former team.

"I understand what they are saying," Lo Duca said. "They want me in a more controlled environment so I can get some more at-bats. They want me to take it a little easy."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.