- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 26, 2008

New Washington Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca injured his left knee during a workout in New York earlier this week.

Early indications are that the injury is not serious, but Dr. Andrew Pearle, associate physician for the Mets, examined Lo Duca yesterday.

Lo Duca also had an MRI, but the Nationals have not seen the results. Dr. Ben Shaffer, the team’s orthopedist, will examine Lo Duca early next week.

The four-time All-Star signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Nationals after two years with Mets.

Though he missed some time with a hamstring injury last season, Lo Duca is still one of the most durable catchers in baseball during his career, averaging 510 at-bats a season since 2001.

Twelve Nats sign

The Nationals yesterday agreed to terms on 2008 contracts with 12 players, including several expected to compete for spots in the team’s starting rotation.

The team reached deals with starting pitchers Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann, Matt Chico, Enrique Gonzalez, Joel Hanrahan and Tyler Clippard as well as reliever Saul Rivera. The Nationals also agreed to terms with outfielders Elijah Dukes, Justin Maxwell, Garrett Guzman and Roger Bernadina, and catcher Jesus Flores.

Thirty-seven of the players on the Nationals’ 40-man roster are now under contract for the 2008 season.

The team is still negotiating with infielder Felipe Lopez, pitcher John Rauch and Ryan Zimmerman. An arbitration hearing for Lopez is scheduled for Feb. 13 the hearing for Rauch is Feb. 6.

Zimmerman is not yet eligible for arbitration and could be renewed at close to the league minimum. The team has had early talks with him about a long-term contract.

Dever promoted

The Nationals announced that they promoted John Dever to senior director of baseball media relations and hired Mike Gazda as director of media relations.

Dever has been with the franchise since before its move from Montreal to the District. Gazda has spent the last three years as a media relations manager with the Marlins.