Garciaparra out at least two weeks with wrist injury
Updated: Thursday March 01, 2001 10:18 AM
The two-time defending AL batting champion hopes to be ready for opening day. But if rest doesn't fix the problem, he didn't rule out surgery.
"If [the doctors] were thinking about it, they didn't tell me and I didn't want to hear it right now," he said Wednesday. "Hopefully, this works, even if there has to be rehabilitation."
The frustrating thing for the All-Star shortstop is the puzzling nature of the injury.
He and team physician Dr. Bill Morgan traced it back to Sept. 25, 1999, when Baltimore's Al Reyes hit Garciaparra on the wrist with a pitch.
But Garciaparra played all of 2000 with only mild discomfort in the wrist and led the AL with a .372 average.
And last Sunday he had his normal spring training workout. Then he went to bed and, by morning, everything had changed. The wrist was swollen and he couldn't throw a ball or swing a bat.
"They tell me that's kind of important in the line of work that I do," he said with a laugh.
He wasn't in as good a mood last Monday morning.
"I was shocked when I woke up," he said. "The reason I'm concerned is because it was something that happened a while ago and has come back.
"Since I've been here and working out and training and swinging the bat a whole lot more, it's really flared up."
He had an MRI and the injury was diagnosed as a split tendon, which isn't as severe as a tear, with inflammation.
Garciaparra is expected to wear a removable cast for one to two weeks and take anti-inflammatory medication.
So what happens to the improved offense of a team that had the second worst batting average in the AL last year but picked up outfielder Manny Ramirez?
What will fans think of an injury to the AL's 1997 rookie of the year and 1999 batting champ with a .357 average?
"There's no need of fearing the worst right now," said Garciaparra, who smiled often throughout a 20-minute interview. "If there's anything that happens, it's better now in spring training than if it were in September" with the Red Sox fighting for a playoff spot.
The Red Sox also picked up veterans David Cone and Hideo Nomo to bolster an already strong pitching staff.
Lou Merloni probably will start at shortstop in Thursday night's spring training opener against Minnesota. Manager Jimy Williams also can turn to Craig Grebeck and Jon Shave at that position.
"We are not in a panic situation here whatsoever," Williams said. "Maybe we caught it in time."
Merloni, a close friend of Garciaparra, cautioned against being too pessimistic.
"We'll see what the story is in a couple of weeks," he said. "You [reporters] are kind of jumping the gun, I think, a little bit. Life without Nomar, you know."
Merloni last played shortstop extensively in 1999 at Pawtucket and in Boston when Garciaparra injured a hamstring. He also played shortstop for one game in the 1999 AL division series against Cleveland when Garciaparra sat out with the wrist injury.
"It was pretty darn bad if I wasn't out there playing," Garciaparra said.
He's suffered injuries throughout his four-plus big-league seasons. He's been on the disabled list four times and had a knee injury last spring training. He hasn't played more than 143 games in any of the past three seasons.
Garciaparra is earning $6.8 million this year in a contract that runs through 2003 with the team holding an option for 2004 that it is expected to exercise before the April 1 deadline. An agreement on a long-term extension by then is a possibility.
General manager Dan Duquette hopes Garciaparra will be at full strength by then.
"We're hopeful that the rest and conservative treatment will allow Nomar to resume his preseason conditioning in order to be ready for Opening Day," he said in a statement.
Garciaparra said he hasn't considered a worst-case scenario and expects to be part of an impressive lineup.
"I don't see myself saying I'm not going to be part of it the whole season," he said, "but right now am I frustrated? Yeah."
He's also trying to stay upbeat.
"I'm being optimistic," Garciaparra said. "Hopefully, this is all I need. Maybe I can just go back to the discomfort that I had last year. That would be great."