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Dodgers bring back Garciaparra for two more years

LOS ANGELES -- Six-time All-Star Nomar Garciaparra and the
Los Angeles Dodgers agreed Monday to an $18.5 million, two-year
contract.

The 33-year-old Garciaparra, the NL comeback player of the year,
will get a $2.5 million signing bonus, a salary of $7.5 million
next season and $8.5 million in 2008. His deal also contains
performance bonuses and a no-trade provision.

A two-time AL batting champion, Garciaparra shifted to first
base with the Dodgers last season, his first with the team. He hit
.303 with 93 RBI and 20 home runs to tie J.D. Drew for the team
lead in homers.

"I was hoping to be back and wanted to be back. I'm glad I
didn't have to go anywhere else," Garciaparra said.

He grew up in nearby Whittier and graduated from St. John Bosco
High in suburban Bellflower.

Garciaparra earned $8.5 million last season, including $2.5
million in performance bonuses. He signed a one-year deal with the
Dodgers last winter. Injuries limited him to a total of 82 games in
the previous two years. He was slowed late in the season by
quadriceps and oblique muscle injuries.

"Nomar played a huge role in the Dodgers' success last season
and an offensive threat like him is not easy to find," Dodgers
general manager Ned Colletti said in a statement. "His
versatility, mental toughness, clutch performances and leadership
capabilities make him a perfect fit for the team."

Garciaparra had five game-winning hits last season, including
his two-run shot in the 10th inning in an 11-10 victory over San
Diego on Sept. 18. The Dodgers tied a major league record but
hitting four consecutive homers in the bottom of the ninth.

After playing mostly shortstop in his previous 10 big league
seasons, Garciaparra made a seamless switch to first in Los
Angeles. He made only four errors in 1,124 chances for a .996
fielding percentage, the NL's second-highest for a first baseman
last season.

"Players and people like Nomar are difficult to find,"
Colletti said. "Who he is and how he plays made it imperative that
we kept him in a Dodger uniform."

Asked if he expects to remain at first, Garciaparra said the
decision was up to manager Grady Little.

"I'm sure there'll be a time when I play first, maybe a time
when I'll play a different position," he said. "Wherever Grady
needs me, he can pencil me in. If he needs me to catch, I'll catch
-- but I don't think he will."

Los Angeles was swept by the New York Mets in the first round of
the playoffs and is 1-12 in the postseason since winning the 1988
World Series.

Garciaparra was AL Rookie of the Year in 1997 and won his first
batting title in 1999. He was considered one of baseball's best
shortstops for several years while playing with the Boston Red Sox.

He hit .283 with nine homers and 30 RBI for the Chicago Cubs
two seasons ago, when he earned $8.25 million. With the Cubs, he
tore his left groin running out of the batter's box and was out for
several months.

Garciaparra -- who grew up in nearby Whittier and graduated from
St. John Bosco High in suburban Bellflower -- had said he was
interested in staying with the Dodgers.

"I've loved every minute of it," he said last month.

Garciaparra became all the more attractive to the Dodgers after
Drew opted out of the final three years of his contract earlier
this month, making him eligible to become a free agent.

Before the groin injury in 2005, he was sidelined for 81 games
in 2004 with three injuries -- to his Achilles tendon, left wrist
and right groin.

He had surgery on his right wrist when he was with the Red Sox
in 2001.

"It's part of the game," he said of injuries. "I've battled through them,
come back strong. That's not on my mind now. I'm feeling great
now."