Garciaparra waiting for call

Updated: June 1, 2004, 5:37 PM ET
Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra went 2-for-3 Monday for Triple-A Pawtucket in his second minor-league rehabilitation game.

Tony Gwynn's Take
Tony Gwynn
Nomar Garciaparra has yet to play a game for the Boston Red Sox this season due to tendinitis in his right Achilles. He also happens to be eligible for free agency at the end of this season.

That isn't the best combination of circumstances for a player in a contract year. But even though the Red Sox have played well without him -- they're tied with the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East -- I believe it's important for management to keep Garciaparra in Boston.

The Red Sox have a tremendous history as a franchise. Baseball history is especially important in New England, and Nomar -- who has spent his entire eight-year career in Boston -- personifies the Red Sox, much as Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski did.

At the very least, from a public-relations standpoint, you'd think the Red Sox would try really hard to sign Garciaparra and go the extra mile to get it done.

Garciaparra singled in the first and third innings, walked in the fourth and left the game after fouling out to the catcher in the sixth.

"I was glad I was able to go back out there today," he said. "It felt pretty good."

Garciaparra was 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his debut Sunday. It was his first game since fouling a ball off his right heel in spring training on March 17.

"I talked to him and it surprised him how well he felt," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said in Boston. "He played the whole game without thinking before he took a step, and that's a really good sign. I know he was really excited."

Francona said the Red Sox hadn't decided whether Garciaparra will make Pawtucket's next trip, to Toledo. Garciaparra said he probably wouldn't play in Tuesday's game at Louisville and would rejoin the team Thursday in Toledo.

"Buddy (Bailey, the Pawtucket manager) was thinking of it this way: 'I want to see if you can get over 100 pitches.' That's why I had a chance to get up for a fourth time. I said, 'Yeah, that's great.' " Garciaparra said.

"It does make a difference when you're on your toes for 100 pitches, but it's good. I was glad I was able to experience something like that."

Garciaparra said he was waiting to hear from the Red Sox.

"It's their call," he said. "I'm happy to be out there. I'm smiling all the time. I've been sitting on the battle lines all this time. It's good to go back out there."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press