Nomar Garciaparra was activated from the 15-day disabled list Wednesday by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who optioned right-handed reliever Ramon Troncoso to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Garciaparra, who went 3-for-10 with Las Vegas during his three-game minor league rehab stint, returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday to confer with the training staff and manager Joe Torre. The plan was for the third baseman to play one more game with the minor league club and then get activated for the start of a road trip, but a flu bug was going around down there _ so the Dodgers wanted to make sure that what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas.
"He was supposed to play there today, but I guess they had a little stomach flu thing going on, so we kept him back here today," Torre said after writing Garciaparra's name in the seventh spot on his lineup card against Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm.
"We were going to activate him on Friday, anyway. But with a left-handed pitcher going tonight, there was really nothing to prevent him from playing. So we figured we might as well throw him out there. I checked with him to see how he was feeling, and he was good. Besides, he wasn't going to get any better by Friday," he said.
Garciaparra and backup third baseman Andy LaRoche were injured in the same exhibition game March 8 at Vero Beach, Fla. Garciaparra was hit on the right wrist by a pitch, and LaRoche tore a ligament in his right thumb while trying to catch a pickoff throw from catcher Danny Ardoin. LaRoche had surgery three days later.
Tony Abreu also started the season on the DL because of a groin strain, giving non-roster invitee Blake DeWitt a chance to be the Dodgers' fifth opening day third baseman in five years instead of beginning the season with Double-A Jacksonville.
DeWitt started the first 14 games, committing only one error while showing good range and a strong arm. He was batting .261 with five RBIs and eight walks, reaching base in all but one game. When he singled against San Francisco's Barry Zito in the season opener, DeWitt became the first Dodgers player to get a hit in his first big league at-bat on opening day since 1969, when Bill Russell doubled against Cincinnati's Jim Merritt.
"The best thing that's come out of the whole bad luck part of (the rash of injuries to the third base position) was Blake DeWitt," Torre said. "We certainly got a peek at a guy who didn't come to spring training with it, and found himself playing on opening day. So whatever happens for him from here on out has certainly been a positive for him and us both _ to watch the way he's handled this stuff and to know that he's there in the event that we need some help."
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