Lo Duca to begin rehab assignment

Lo Duca to begin rehab assignment

WASHINGTON -- Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca took batting practice and played catch without any problems on Friday.

Lo Duca, who fractured his right hand in early May, is expected to be back in action sooner than expected. He will start his rehab assignment with Class A Potomac on Sunday and play a couple of games for the team.

Lo Duca will then go to Triple-A Columbus for a couple of more games before being activated from the disabled list sometime during the Nationals' next road trip. Lo Duca's leadership would provide a big boost for the club. He was not expected back until the All-Star break.

"[The hand] feels better. Throwing was not the issue. I stayed in shape and worked hard," Lo Duca said.

The big question is, will Lo Duca get his starting job back once he is activated? Right now, Jesus Flores is swinging a hot bat and the Nationals declined to talk about the future until Lo Duca returns to the big leagues.

However, Lo Duca was willing to talk about it. While he would like to play every day, Lo Duca said if he were the manager, he would keep Flores in the lineup.

"Whatever Manny [Acta] wants me to play, I will play," Lo Duca said. "The kid has been playing very well. Whether Manny wants me to play other positions -- outfield, I'll DH some -- I'm willing to help out the team. I've been injured all year. I just want to get on the field and be a part of the team. Whatever he wants me to do, I will do."

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