HOUSTON (AP) -New York Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca began serving his two-game suspension on Thursday for an outburst in a game last month, dropping his appeal after meeting with manager Willie Randolph.
Lo Duca was suspended and fined $2,000 for a June 23 tirade aimed at umpire Marvin Hudson. He was ejected for arguing a call, then tossed his equipment onto the field. After meeting with Randolph and assistant general manager John Ricco in Colorado on Tuesday, Lo Duca agreed to serve his suspension for the first two games of the Mets' weekend series in Houston.
``They called me in there the other day and decided this would be the best time,'' said Lo Duca, who was batting .300 on the Mets' current road trip.
Ramon Castro started Thursday's game in Houston. Randolph said Lo Duca would return to the lineup on Saturday. With the All-Star break starting Monday, Randolph wanted Lo Duca to serve his suspension to avoid a five-day gap between starts.
``Your timing gets messed up a little bit - you don't want to have too much time off,'' Lo Duca said. ``I can understand it. They didn't want that to happen.''
As insurance, the Mets purchased the contract of veteran catcher Sandy Alomar, Jr. on Wednesday and sent down left-handed pitcher Jason Vargas.

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