WASHINGTON (AP) -The White House said Friday it had no input on the decision to have Nationals manager Manny Acta catch the ceremonial first pitch from President Bush on Sunday night. Acta was picked instead of starting catcher Paul Lo Duca, whose name appeared prominently in the Mitchell Report on drug use in baseball.
``It was a decision that was made by the Nationals,'' White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said.
Asked if the president would have any objection to throwing to Lo Duca, Stanzel said: ``The president was happy to throw out the first pitch to whoever the Nationals selected.''
Nationals president Stan Kasten said Lo Duca was never considered to catch the pitch. He said the team owners chose between Acta and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, both of whom will accompany the president to the mound.
``Myself and the Lerner family thought it would be appropriate to represent our team and the youth of our team,'' Kasten said. ``Ryan Zimmerman would be a good person to accompany the president, and our leader, our manager, Manny Acta. Those choices seemed obvious to us. Those have always been our choices. Anyone else who had different thoughts was just misinformed.''
Lo Duca, publicly at least, took the news in stride.
``That's OK,'' the catcher said. ``Hopefully, I'll still meet the president.''
Notes: Acta will announce his opening day lineup before Saturday's exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles. ... OF Elijah Dukes rejoined the team after missing Thursday's exhibition game to deal with non-baseball matters.

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