Garciaparra 0-for-4 in Triple-A rehab start

TOLEDO, Ohio -- Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, sidelined all season because of a sore right Achilles tendon, hopes to be
back in Boston's lineup early next week.

Garciaparra started a three-game rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday in Toledo. He went 0-for-4 and struck out twice in seven innings.

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. Nothing's been decided."

Garciaparra injured himself when he fouled a ball off his heel in spring training on March 17.

He grounded out weakly to second base his first time up and struck out in the third inning, swinging at a ball far out of the strike zone. After flying out sharply to center in the fifth, Garciaparra struck out looking on three pitches and had a few words with the home plate umpire before heading to the dugout.

Garciaparra made a nice defensive play in the second inning,
reaching far to his right for a ball into the hole and making an
off-balance throw to get Toledo's Eric Owens at first.

"That was pretty big," he said. "Plays like that I want to be
able to do instinctively. I want to be able to go all out."

Garciaparra said he felt good playing seven innings and thought
he could've played more in the 3-2 loss to the Mud Hens.

The five-time 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."

A two-time batting champion, Garciaparra 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 Red Sox 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 2½ games behind New York in the AL East.