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Garciaparra Undergoes Surgery

Nomar Garciaparra had wrist surgery Monday, an opening-day operation that could deprive the Boston Red Sox of their two-time AL batting champion for half the season.

And there's no assurance that his right wrist - which had a split tendon surrounded by an inflamed sheath - ever will be as strong as it was before the injury.

"The repair went quite well," Red Sox team physician Dr. Bill Morgan said. "It's obvious that he's more vulnerable than prior to ever being injured. He had a fair amount of injury and a fair amount of surgery."

But there might be only "a small chance" of increased vulnerability depending on the range of motion Garciaparra regains, Morgan said.

The operation culminates a decision process that began early in spring training when Garciaparra woke up one morning with a swollen right wrist after swinging the bat and throwing.

At first, it was placed in a cast to immobilize it in hopes the split tendon would heal on its own and return him to the lineup quicker.

That became increasingly unlikely as the days went by and Garciaparra still had swelling. After visiting hand specialist Dr. Frank McCue in Virginia last week, Garciaparra said last Tuesday the probability of surgery was "extremely high."

But he waited a few more days before finally having surgery at UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester.

The operation is "the best solution for me to get back to playing as soon as possible. I trust Dr. Morgan," Garciaparra said in a statement. While sidelined, he said he plans to "heal, rehab, support my team and get ready to play."

Morgan found, as expected, a split tendon and an inflamed sheath surrounding it. He also fixed an exposed piece of bone on the bottom of the sheath, an injury that hadn't shown up in tests. He removed about 15 percent of a frayed section of the tendon near the little finger.

Morgan said he repaired the roof of the sheath and relined its floor while fixing the longitudinal split in the tendon.

Morgan did not say how long Garciaparra would be out of action, but said the wrist would be immobilized for four to six weeks, and would need four to six weeks of rehabilitation. And Garciaparra wouldn't be able to jump right into a game after that, Morgan said.

The 12th week of the season ends June 23, when the Red Sox are home against Toronto. The All-Star game is 2 1/2 weeks later on July 10 in Seattle.

That means Garciaparra would fall short of a contract incentive worth an extra $500,000 in 2003 and 2004 if he made the All-Star team four times from 1998-2002. He made it twice in the past three seasons.

Instead of Garciaparra, the Red Sox started Craig Grebeck at shortstop in Monday's seaso-opening 2-1, 11-inning loss at Baltimore. Grebeck, who went 0-for-3, made the club in spring training after signing a minor league contract.

Garciaparra was replaced in the third spot in the lineup by catcher Jason Varitek, who went 1-for-4.

Last season, Garciaparra went 0-for-8 in the first two games then started his march to his second straight batting title. He hit .372 despite a season-long discomfort in his wrist caused after it was hit by a pitch from Baltimore's Al Reyes in September 1999.

Garciaparra traced this year's problem back to that at-bat, even though he was able to pursue his customary rigorous offseason workouts.

The 1997 AL Rookie of the Year was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday, a move retroactive to March 22. Garciaparra stayed in Fort Myers, Fla., when the Red Sox broke camp Thursday for their final two exhibition games in Houston and Milwaukee and the opener in Baltimore.

©2001 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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