Archive for Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Healthy Garciaparra ready to contribute to Cubs

February 22, 2005


— Nomar Garciaparra shrugged off suggestions that he could emerge as the new leader of the Chicago Cubs following Sammy Sosa's departure.

Garciaparra was just trying to get acclimated Monday when he reported to spring training in Arizona for the first time, saying he had to ask for directions to the Cubs' complex.

Traded to the Cubs in a testy departure from the Boston Red Sox on July 31, Garciaparra returned to Chicago with a one-year, $8 million deal -- the contract was later reworked as part of a handshake agreement to give him a boost to $8.25 million in base pay. Its total value, with performance bonuses, could be $11 million.

Following a season in which he battled an assortment of injuries, the Cubs hope the former two-time batting champ will stay well and put some pop in their lineup missing Sosa and Moises Alou. Whether he'll be a club leader is another matter.

"I'm definitely not the new face of this organization, that's for sure," Garciaparra said.

"You're not looking for one leader. There is a nucleus of guys here, a core of guys that represents this team so well. You're looking at (Mark) Prior, Kerry Wood, you got (Michael) Barrett."

Garciaparra spent the first 81/2 years of his career in Boston, and might have stayed there if the Red Sox hadn't dangled him on the trade market when they were trying to acquire Alex Rodriguez from Texas before last season.

After he left the only team he'd ever known, the Red Sox went on to win their first World Series since 1918. He didn't watch, he said, because he never does.

"They've always talked about, well, it's been so long since these two clubs have won the World Series," he said. "Well, the Red Sox did it; the Cubs can do it as well."


Tampa, Fla. -- Jason Giambi wasted no time beginning his rehabilitation with New York fans after a season wrecked by injury and an offseason filled with steroid allegations.

A little more than two hours after arriving at spring training Monday in Tampa, Fla., he walked to the outfield end of the New York dugout, stepped onto the field and was greeted with cheers and outstretched pens.

"It's pretty humbling, pretty incredible, to have the support from the fans," Giambi said." It's pretty awesome."


Peoria, Ariz. -- Seattle third-baseman Adrian Beltre took his physical and joined his new teammates for a round of batting practice.

Beltre, who signed a $64 million, five-year contract with the Mariners in December, knows the game will be different for him after spending the first seven years of his major-league career with Los Angeles.

"It's not going to be easy," he said of facing the AL for the first time. "It's going to take time to adjust to it. I hope my new teammates are going to help me."


Surprise, Ariz. -- Second baseman Alfonso Soriano was given permission to increase his running program as he prepared for his second season with the Texas Rangers.

"Everything looks great with Sori," trainer Jamie Reed said.

Soriano tore his left hamstring and missed the final two weeks of the 2004 season. He did most of his rehab work on a stationary bike after deciding not to have surgery.

"I just started running about two weeks ago," Soriano said. "It's going to take awhile to get in shape, but I feel good so far."


Port St. Lucie, Fla. -- On the day center fielder Carlos Beltran reported to his first spring with the New York Mets, general manager Omar Minaya met Mike Cameron, who is shifting from center.

"I'm not even thinking about trading Mike Cameron," Minaya said. "Mike Cameron's going to be our right fielder."

Cameron's name has surfaced in trade rumors since the Mets signed Beltran. Cameron reported to camp Monday and said he never indicated he wanted a trade.


Tucson, Ariz. -- New Arizona manager Bob Melvin selected Javier Vazquez as his the opening-day starter. Vazquez got the nod over fellow right-hander Russ Ortiz, who got the first opening-day start of his career last season with Atlanta.


Lakeland, Fla. -- New Detroit outfielder Magglio Ordonez worked out without a brace on the left knee, which required two operations and cut short his 2004 season.

"My knee feels normal," said Ordonez, who spent the first eight years of his career with the Chicago White Sox. "The only thing I need to get back is my rhythm."


Vero Beach, Fla. -- Brad Penny had his first bullpen session since sustaining a rare nerve injury to his right arm shortly after Los Angeles acquired him from Florida late last season. The right-hander threw about a dozen pitches, which were more like tosses in a game of catch. Penny said it was his idea to go to the mound.

"I just wanted to get up there and pitch," he said, adding the pitches were thrown at less than half effort. "I'll probably do it again Wednesday, but I might do it (today). I didn't plan on doing it (Monday), so you never know."


Jupiter, Fla. -- Chris Carpenter, who missed most of the postseason because of a bruised nerve near his right biceps, watched helplessly as St. Louis was swept by the Red Sox in the World Series.

"Obviously it was frustrating," he said Monday at the Cardinals' spring training camp. "Unfortunately, it was at a bad time. But I had to deal with it, and I did."

Carpenter has found rest was vital to his recovery.

"I'm ready to go now and I feel no effects of the injury," he said.

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