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Garciaparra will begin season on DL

All-star shortstop out for at least three weeks

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra will start the season on the disabled list with an injured right Achilles' tendon and is expected to be out at least three weeks.

 

The All-Star slugger said Wednesday that doctors told him to rest. Pokey Reese will be at shortstop when Boston opens the regular season Sunday in Baltimore, and Mark Bellhorn will fill in for Reese at second base.

"I don't like missing more time than I anticipated, but the good thing is we know we have a structured program to be able to talk to all the doctors and get everyone on the same page," Garciaparra said after the team placed him on the disabled list.

"My body will tell me when I'm ready. Once that happens it shouldn't take me long to get back in the lineup," he said.

Garciaparra was examined Wednesday in Florida by Mark Slovenkai, an ankle and foot specialist from New England Baptist Hospital.

No structural damage was found in the tendon, but the injury was diagnosed as a bruise in the cartilage that covers the tendon. The only treatment is rest.

Garciaparra was injured March 5 when he was hit by a ball during batting practice. He has been limited to just eight at-bats in spring training.

He is the second Red Sox starter to go down this spring. Right fielder Trot Nixon is expected to be out until early May with a lower back problem.

General manager Theo Epstein doesn't plan to trade for temporary replacements.

"It's never a good time to have guys hurt," Epstein said. "We're going to have to wait until they're 100 percent, but we're going to be OK."

With Garciaparra out, David Ortiz will bat cleanup in Boston's lineup.

"I'm disappointed for us and for him," manager Terry Francona said. "The hope is that we have a good team surrounding him and we don't let it affect our wins and losses. But he's a very good player right in the middle of our lineup. So to say that we wouldn't miss him, we would be lying."

Garciaparra hit .301 last season, with 28 home runs and 105 RBIs.

The two-time American League batting champion was the subject of trade rumors during the offseason, when the Red Sox tried to acquire AL MVP Alex Rodriguez from Texas and considered sending Garciaparra to the Chicago White Sox to make room in their infield. But trade talks with Texas broke down, and Rodriguez went to Boston's biggest rival, the New York Yankees.

Garciaparra said he will fly to Boston on Thursday.

Nixon and righthanders Byung-Hyun Kim and Reynaldo Garcia have been placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. Nixon began a rehabilitation program at the University of Miami Spine Institute on Monday.

Kim, who is recovering from a right shoulder strain, has been sidelined since last pitching in a game on March 10. Garcia had bone chips removed from a joint in his right elbow on March 18.

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