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Tonight's the night for Nomar

Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra will make his major league season debut Wednesday night against the San Diego Padres.

The Red Sox said Garciaparra would be activated from the disabled list before the game and would play shortstop and bat fifth. He missed 57 games after injuring his right Achilles' tendon when he fouled a ball off his heel during spring training.

"We're going to play a few games and mix in a few days off," Garciaparra told reporters before Wednesday's game. "I don't know when those will be just yet."

"I don't think I'll be 100 percent for a long time," he said.

But he said doctors and trainers had advised him he should not expect his lingering injury to affect his ability to perform on the field.

Asked if he was taking his time coming back, he responded, "If I was taking my time, I'd be back in August."

Garciaparra went 5-for-21 (.238) with one homer on a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. He had just eight spring training at-bats before injuring the heel on March 17.

“I don't know what the reaction's gonna be (when he first steps into the batter's box), but I'll tell you what, the fans here have always been so good to me and I appreciate it since day one, and you know what, I'm going out there to play and do the best I can, it's the only thing I can,” Garciaparra said. “It's the only way I can repay them the way they've been to me is just go out there and give my all no matter what the results, I'm gonna go out there and try and try to win tonight.”

Garciaparra will bat fifth in the lineup.

“We just talked about where to hit in the lineup,” Garciaparra said. “I've hit in different spots I think through my career so it doesn't bother me, it's fine, you know like I said I'm glad to be out there, I don't care ninth, eighth, seventh, sixth, leadoff, you tell me, I'm just glad to be out there.”

To make room for Garciaparra, the Red Sox gave infielder/outfielder optioned Brian Daubach and right-handed pitcher Jamie Brown to Triple-A Pawtucket. Boston also called up left-handed pitcher Mark Malaska.

Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon was expected to play for Pawtucket on Thursday, a spokesman for the minor league team said. Nixon suffered a back injury during spring training, then injured his left thigh muscle while recovering. He has yet to make his 2004 major league debut.

Nixon played five innings in the first game of a doubleheader for Single-A Sarasota on a rehab assignment Tuesday night. He went two-for-three with a double, an RBI and a run scored. 

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