TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra hopes to be back in the Boston Red Sox lineup early next week, he said Thursday.
Sidelined all season because of a sore right Achilles' tendon, Garciaparra started a three-game rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket in
Toledo on Thursday. He plans to fly back to Boston after Saturday's game to be evaluated. If all goes well, he could be in Boston's lineup Tuesday
against San Diego.
"I would like to," Garciaparra said. "But I've never put a definite time on it or said this is my mark or this is my goal.
"If I don't reach it, I don't want to be disappointed," he said. "Nothing's been decided."
Garciaparra injured himself when he fouled a ball off his heel in spring training on March 17. The five-time AL All-Star played five innings in two
games for the PawSox against Louisville before going back to Boston this week to work out and be evaluated by team doctors.
"All signs were good," he said. "It was a good evaluation."
Garciaparra was 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his debut Sunday and came back to get two hits the next night. The two-time batting champion said right
now he is concentrating on getting his timing down in the batter's box and making sure he can move around without worrying about his heel.
"It's not easy just to step in there and go out there and start hitting," he said. "We'd like to think we can."
Although the team initially hoped he could be ready for the start of the season, his rehab has been slower than first expected. Garciaparra, eligible
for free agency after the season, clearly was happy just to be playing again.
"It drives me crazy to not be able to play," he said. "I'm just excited to be in this baseball atmosphere."
Boston was idle Thursday. The Red Sox are 31-22 and 2 games behind New York in the AL East.
[Edited on 3/6/04 by TRD]