Garciaparra Injury Not Serious

Nomar Garciaparra has a broken bone in his right hand, and the Los Angeles third baseman might not be ready for opening day. He had an MRI in Los Angeles that revealed a microfracture.

However, it is not considered to be as serious as a complete fracture of a bone, and the club is taking a wait and see attitude.

A two-time AL batting champion, Garciaparra was hit by a pitch March 7 and has experienced pain in his hand ever since, making it difficult to swing a bat.

MRIs showed a microfracture in a small bone of his right wrist, which trainer Stan Conte likened to a small bone bruise. Nomar got a cortisone shot in the soft tissue to avoid swelling and will be re-examined in a couple of days.

The location of the injury is on top and the opposite side of the wrist from where it was struck by a Kyle McClellan fastball.

"We'll see where Nomar's at in another week or so, and in the meantime, we'll continue to see if we can figure out a replacement from within or outside," general manager Ned Colletti said Wednesday.

Garciaparra played most of the 2000 season in pain after being struck on the same right wrist. The following April, doctors finally discovered a split tendon that required surgical repair and limited him to only 21 Major League games in 2001.

Tony Abreu and Blake DeWitt are thought to be the leading candidates to start at third on opening day if Garciaparra is not ready, although the 22-year-old DeWitt has never played above Double-A.

DeWitt split time last year between Class A and Double-A and was selected for the Mulvey Award as the best rookie in camp before the final home game.

Torre said the staff has offered mixed reviews on whether DeWitt, only 22, is ready for the Major Leagues.

"Blake DeWitt's got a hell of an opportunity to hang out with the big boys," manager Joe Torre said.

Asked whether if he thought DeWitt is ready to play in the majors, Torre replied: "Some people are saying yes, some people are saying maybe. Nobody says for sure that he's not ready.

"He may be lacking the whole package you need to have. It all comes down to what I see."

It's also possible the Dodgers might trade for a third baseman. Roy Lieberman reported a rumor that Dodgers were looking at the Phillies Wes Helms, the Tigers about Brandon Inge, and the White Sox Joe Crede.

The rumor also says the club is not pleased with Tony Abreu and might trade him.

Garciaparra and prospect Andy LaRoche were expected to compete for the third base job when spring training began, but LaRoche tore a ligament in his right thumb the same day Garciaparra was hit in the hand.

LaRoche is expected to be sidelined at least until the middle of May.

General manager Ned Colletti, who, along with Torre, spent the past week on the China journey and hasn't seen much of DeWitt, said he would likely watch DeWitt play for a week before deciding if he needs to acquire an infielder from another organization. DeWitt already has impressed teammates with his toughness.

The infield situation is further complicated by the lingering hamstring injury of second baseman Jeff Kent, who worked out with the club on Wednesday but cannot run until the end of the week after receiving an injection on Monday.

Jon Weisman of "Dodger Thoughts" suggests "Chin-Lung Hu is an option at third bases. DeWitt is just not ready. Last year in Double-A he drew 27 walks and struck out 88 times. The Major League wolves would eat him alive. He could certainly play third base until LaRoche is ready."

Roster Cutting Begins
The Dodgers made the first of many moves to come by optioning left-handers Eric Stults and Greg Miller to the minor league complex in Vero Beach.

Reliever Yhency Brazoban, some 25 pounds overweight, was left in Vero Beach, when they headed to Phoenix. Brazoban will get needed innings to build arm strength after shoulder surgery.

Stults, who some felt could the fifth-starter job, was left behind when manager Joe Torre said that the job will go to either Esteban Loaiza or Chan Ho Park.

That leaves phenom Clayton Kershaw, who turned 20 on Wednesday, continuing to train with the Major League club but he is expected to start the season in the Minor Leagues.

"If he's part of the big league club, we'd need to resolve in our minds about giving him regular work, and that's unfair to him and unfair to us," Torre told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "Can he help us? My guess is, if you polled everybody, the response would be positive. But how many innings can he pitch?"

Torre said Park would start on today (Friday) in Tucson, Arizona, against the White Sox. He He has not allowed an earned run this spring and has unexpectedly forced his way into the picture for a roster spot.

The full squad practiced for the first time since March 12 at the Oakland A's Minor League complex; with half of the squad on Tony La Russa Field, and the other half on Dick Williams Field.

More Than a Tinge of Blue
Angels manager Mike Scioscia and coaches Mickey Hatcher, Alfredo Griffin, Ron Roenicke and Dino Ebel (former Dodgers all) were given multi-year contracts just before the first of the year. Each of them will be in their ninth season save Ebel who will be in his fourth.

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