Garciaparra to get ring behind closed doors
CHICAGO -- Nomar Garciaparra stood behind first base during batting practice Friday and greeted one former Boston teammate after another with a series of hand shakes and bear hugs.
The Red Sox had a little something for him, too.
Sometime this weekend, behind closed doors, the former Boston shortstop was to receive a World Series ring when the Red Sox faced the Cubs for the first time since the 1918 World Series.
After spending parts of 8½ seasons in Boston, Garciaparra was traded to the Chicago Cubs last July and missed one of the greatest sports experiences in New England history -- a long-awaited World Series title.
But Garciaparra was still scheduled to be recognized for his contributions to the championship, even though he wasn't around to enjoy it after a less than amicable departure.
"I don't think there's really any need for it to be a public thing, especially here," said Garciaparra, who's on the disabled list recovering from groin surgery.
Boston waited 86 years for its World Series banner, its first since beating the Cubs in 1918. Chicago, of course, has been waiting even longer, since 1908.
"These guys are trying everyday to get that ultimate thing, to get the ring," Garciaparra said of his Cubs teammates. "Me getting it and being part of it is something that obviously was in that other wonderful city. It's something that is going to be done in a private manner that I think is best for everybody."
Garciaparra was once one of the most popular players to ever put on a Red Sox jersey, a huge fan favorite who won two batting titles in Boston.
But when the Red Sox tried to acquire Alex Rodriguez from Texas before the 2004 season, they dangled Garciaparra on the trade market. The A-Rod deal didn't come together, but Garciaparra's feelings were still hurt and he sulked through his final half-season in Boston, spending most of it on the disabled list.
On July 31, the Red Sox sent Garciaparra to the Cubs as part of a four-team trade.
"My whole time in Boston I gave everything I could, everything I knew I was about, on and off the field," Garciaparra said.
He added that getting a ring was still special, despite playing the final two months with Chicago.
"You're still a part of it, a championship wasn't just won in one year or just over the course of seven games," he said. "That's not how you win a World Series, you win a World Series over the course of a season and the years before that."
Garciaparra reiterated that he followed the World Series last year but didn't watch it because he never does. But he did pull for his former teammates.
Cubs teammate Todd Walker, who was with the Red Sox in 2003 when they lost Game 7 of the ALCS to the Yankees, acknowledged that watching last year was difficult.
"To pour your heart out in 2003 like I did and then in 2004 to not be a part of it, it's tough. If I'm being honest, it's tough to watch," he said. "The other side of it is, we've got great friends over there and you are extremely happy for those guys because it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
Garciaparra, who's been doing most of his rehabilitation in Arizona, hopes to play again this season. He went on the disabled list April 21 after tearing his left groin. Injuries limited him to 81 games last season -- 38 with the Red Sox, 43 with the Cubs.
What will he do with the ring from his former team?
"Put it up there with all the other things that are around my house that are up with other accomplishments I've done," Garciaparra said. "In a room that, at some point, kids and family members can go admire and I can just walk by."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press