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Lo Duca Takes the Gloves Off in Victory

June 15, 2003|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

CLEVELAND — Paul Lo Duca is in the spotlight because of a career-high hitting streak that reached 22 games Saturday in the Dodgers' 5-2 interleague victory over the Cleveland Indians, but a microphone has brought him unwanted attention.

Wired at the request of Fox, Lo Duca blasted Cleveland center fielder Milton Bradley for showing up starter Andy Ashby after hitting a leadoff home run in the fourth inning, prompting Bradley to fire back harder after the Dodgers' fifth consecutive victory before 25,426 at Jacobs Field.

Lo Duca was among many Dodgers who took exception to Bradley unfastening his batting gloves while running to first base. But only Lo Duca provided TV commentary, which he clarified after the game.

"He's too good of a ballplayer to be doing stuff like that," said Lo Duca, who played first because Fred McGriff has groin tightness.

"If you're cocky, that's fine. It's good to be cocky and confident. I'm cocky when I play out there, and that's the way he plays. I just think he goes a little overboard."

Lo Duca's opinions don't matter to Bradley.

"Somebody alerted me to the fact he was over there poppin' off," said Bradley, whose on-field flamboyance has been a source of frustration for Cleveland officials.

"I saw the videotape of him saying some things. I guess he kind of feels bad my numbers are better than his, and I spent two weeks on the [disabled list].

"I live by a simple creed that says, 'If you don't know me and I don't know you, don't approach me and I won't approach you.' Don't assault me and I won't assault you, because you don't know what I will or won't do. I'm going to end it with that."

The animosity between Lo Duca and Bradley escalated after Bradley struck out in the fifth, and Lo Duca was thrown out trying to go from second to third in the seventh on Shawn Green's fly ball to Bradley.

The TV sideshow pushed into the background the fine pitching of Ashby and Wilson Alvarez.

Ashby (1-4) pitched five solid innings to remain in the mix for the fifth rotation spot. Alvarez did his part to make the competition interesting, working four scoreless innings and getting his third career save.

And backup catcher David Ross paced a 10-hit attack with three hits -- including his second homer -- and three runs batted in.

The Dodgers (39-28) improved to 5-0 on the trip against the lowly Detroit Tigers and Cleveland. But the Lo Duca-Bradley situation was the focus in the clubhouse.

"From what I'm hearing, a lot of guys on the bench took offense [to Bradley's actions]," said Brian Jordan, who had two hits. "You don't want to draw attention to yourself like that. Especially when you're a young guy."

After hitting his fifth homer of the season to right on Ashby's first pitch in the fourth inning, Bradley quickly loosened his batting gloves. The Dodgers were upset, figuring Bradley was trying to indicate Ashby's pitch wasn't very good.

With two out in the fifth, the Dodgers leading, 3-2, and runners on the corners, Fox aired audio of Lo Duca criticizing Bradley to Jody Gerut, on first after a single. While Bradley argued with umpire Mark Carlson after striking out looking to end the inning, Lo Duca shouted, "Take your gloves off for that one." Also on TV, Lo Duca made reference to what would happen if Bradley had tried to show up a pitcher such as Kevin Brown, who has an ornery reputation.

"I was telling Jody that he's too good of a ballplayer to be doing that," Lo Duca said.

"If he keeps doing it, he keeps doing it, that's his prerogative. I just didn't feel it was right at the time. If that game is out of reach, and he does that with a guy like Brownie on the mound, he's going to get killed. I was trying to protect him because he's a young kid."

Bradley said he was simply doing his thing.

"I take my strap off when I walk; nobody has a problem with it. I hit a home run, and then all of a sudden it becomes different," Bradley said.

"It has no meaning. No disrespect toward the Dodgers. They're my hometown team. I'm from Long Beach. I've always been a Dodger fan. I put my head down and run the bases, like anybody else."

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