Garciaparra reports to Red Sox camp with healthy wrist

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Nomar Garciaparra did one of the simplest things in baseball Monday. He played catch.

That was a very encouraging sight for Red Sox fans.

Garciaparra reported to spring training two days early and said his right wrist, which sidelined him most of last season, felt fine. He plans to proceed cautiously to make sure it stays that way.

Boston's shortstop said he was told it takes 12 months to recover from surgery on his wrist. He still has more than a month to go.

"It's feeling pretty good," he said, but "while I'm here, I'm going to be smart" and not rush his activities.

The Red Sox struggled without the two-time AL batting champion, who played only 21 games after undergoing surgery on opening day April 2. Long-term injuries to pitcher Pedro Martinez and catcher Jason Varitek also hurt.

The Red Sox missed the playoffs, finishing in second place in the AL East 13 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees as they went 17-26 down the stretch.

This season, all three players appear healthy.

Garciaparra said his wrist didn't become swollen during offseason workouts, but he expects that to happen as spring training intensifies.

"I don't expect it to really bother me much," he said.

Pain free

It didn't seem to be a problem as he and infielder Lou Merloni, his close friend, uncorked hard throws to each other while fans looked on. At one point, the players were interrupted as new team owner John Henry walked onto the field to introduce himself.

Garciaparra already knew he was there because his custom luxury bus, with the name of the Florida Marlins on it, stood out amid the rental cars in the parking lot. Henry's sale of the Marlins to former Montreal Expos owner Jeffrey Loria was closed on Saturday.

"He's got the wrong bus," Garciaparra joked. "Somebody ought to tell him. Maybe he didn't get the memo."

Other newcomers are John Burkett, Dustin Hermanson, Johnny Damon, Tony Clark and Rickey Henderson.

A healthy Garciaparra is another welcome addition and he said he's not worried that the injury might be a crossroads in his career.

Dealing with adversity

"When it happened last year I sulked for a day, one day. I said, 'aw, man, you kidding me?'" Garciaparra said. "Then it was over. I said, 'OK, let's go take care of it.'

"Instead of me saying, 'I can't believe this is happening, this is going to ruin everything,' I said, 'forget that. What do I have to do?' Just get ready and that's what I did."

He injured the wrist when he was struck by a pitch from Baltimore's Al Reyes in September 1999.

Garciaparra, 28, underwent surgery to repair a split and frayed tendon and the sheath that surrounds it. An exposed bone at the bottom of the sheath, an injury that had not been known previously, was smoothed during the operation.

He returned to the Red Sox on July 29 when he hit a solo homer and a two-run single in a 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox. But he didn't play every day and went on the disabled list for the season on Aug. 29.

He hit .289 with four homers and eight RBIs after batting .359 and .372 the previous two years.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: