Nomar Garciaparra has had a rough 10 months.
As the Boston Red Sox closed in on the postseason in September, their shortstop batted just .170, going from MVP candidate to target of fans’ wrath.
Then Boston made a bid to trade for Alex Rodriguez, which would have resulted in shipping Garciaparra to the Chicago White Sox. That fell through, of course, and public sniping about negotiations to extend Garciaparra’s contract past this season made for more hard feelings.
Then Achilles tendinitis forced Garciaparra to open the season on the disabled list. He returned to action last week and almost immediately fired back at his critics in New England.
Garciaparra was upset that some implied he was taking his time returning to action, and he said he rushed through a rehabilitation assignment — six games and 21 at-bats in Class AAA — to try to prove he wasn’t dogging it.
"I’m playing and I’m still hearing that I’m doing something wrong," he said. "And jeez, I haven’t even played for a few months.
"I can’t win — 21 ABs (in the minors) but no, ‘You’re faking it’ and, ‘C’mon, what are you waiting for?’ Then I come back, they are still going to say, ‘See — he sucks. He’s not good. You were bad last year, you’re bad this year.’ It’s a no-win situation. They should just be glad I’m back."
The passion — and lifelong frustration — of Red Sox fans has its rewards and its drawbacks. And Garciaparra is obviously still smarting over criticism of his play last September.
"I’ve been judged on one month — I’ve got eight years," he said. "Think about what I’ve done. What would you rather have: eight great years and one bad month or eight bad months and one good year? I think those eight years count — they will somewhere, to somebody.’’
Which seems to mean he plans to be somewhere else next season.
A year ago today, Florida called up 20-year-old Miguel Cabrera from Class AA and stuck him in the outfield.
Along with Dontrelle Willis, Cabrera energized the Marlins — all the way to a World Series title.
"When you look at what he did in the playoffs and the World Series, he didn’t get fazed by anybody," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.
"He doesn’t get intimidated by Randy Johnson or (Roger) Clemens or anybody. I think that’s a sign of a young guy that has already acquired a lot of maturity. If he stays the way he is, he’s got a chance to be something special."
In 153 career games (through Friday), Cabrera had a .276 average with 29 homers and 104 RBIs.
"You can’t put a number on what he can do, you don’t know," McKeon said. "He’s going to be big and strong in a year or two. There’s no telling. Sky’s the limit for this guy.
"The more he plays and the more experience he gets and adjusts to the pitching, he’s going to show you that power," McKeon said. "Who would have said that you would have expected him to have this many home runs?"
Before Cincinnati played at Cleveland a couple of weekends ago, Reds first baseman Sean Casey (2004 salary: $6.8 million) spent a morning cutting the grass at his in-laws’ house nearby.
"It was great," Casey said. "I was weed wacking and everything."
• Oakland reliever Arthur Rhodes, on his frustration with umpires: "I’m getting tired of it. I’m just fed up with it. You go out there, you make good pitches, you keep the ball down, you hit the plate and it’s not getting called."
• Tony La Russa, comparing his eight-plus seasons as St. Louis manager with the 9 1 /2 seasons he spent managing Oakland: "I thought nine years was a long time. It’s not as long in the Midwest. Time goes by faster here."
• In four pinch-hit opportunities this season, Minnesota’s Matt LeCroy has one walk and three home runs.
• Baltimore has lost 18 of its past 21 games at Cleveland’s Jacobs Field and is 13-35 there all-time.
• The Chicago White Sox could afford to trade ex-closer Billy Koch because Japanese right-hander Shingo Takatsu has 20 straight scoreless outings and a 1.11 ERA overall.
• Cleveland may be willing to add payroll down the stretch if the team stays in contention in the AL Central.
• Juan Rincon: The Minnesota set-up man is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in June, allowing one hit in nine innings.
• St. Louis: Suddenly has a decent lead in the NL Central.
• R.A. Dickey: Over his past eight starts, the Texas right-hander is 0-5 with an 8.31 ERA.
• Houston: Went into Saturday’s game having lost 21 of 34.