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Garciaparra is put on disabled list

Times Staff Writer

Nomar Garciaparra was put on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a strained left calf, leaving the Dodgers to replace him at third base with recently acquired and promoted Shea Hillenbrand.

Taking Garciaparra’s place on the active roster was right-hander Eric Hull, who was called up from triple-A Las Vegas for the third time this year.

Garciaparra has had a trying season, hitting .280 with only six home runs. He was batting .250 in August and was ejected Monday for the first time in 1,303 games.

Garciaparra said he was injured on the basepaths on the tail end of the Dodgers’ previous homestand in a series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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“I felt something in my calf, but it was in an isolated spot, but it wasn’t that bad,” Garciaparra said. “I felt it in certain movements, but not constantly.”

Last week, particularly the weekend, changed that.

“It got to the point where I was feeling it more and more in different movements,” he said.

Garciaparra said he felt himself starting to alter his stride, which he thought could lead to him injuring something else.

Said Manager Grady Little: “If he pulls it completely, he could miss the rest of the season.”

Garciaparra said he hoped to be back in the lineup the day he is eligible to be activated.

Until then, his position will be occupied most of the time by Hillenbrand, who was his teammate in Boston from 2001 to 2003. Hillenbrand was signed to a minor league contract last week and was called up Monday from triple-A Las Vegas, where he was seven for 13 in three games.

Tuesday, he played third base in the major leagues for only the third time this season. He played one game there for the Angels, who released him in July, and one for the Dodgers on Monday as Garciaparra’s fifth-inning defensive replacement.

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Hillenbrand, 32, lived in nearby Arcadia until his early teens and said his family had Dodgers season tickets.

“It’s been the dream of my life to play for the Dodgers,” Hillenbrand said. “I couldn’t get the smile off my face when I put my uniform on for the first time. It’s kind of stupid, but we’re people too.”

The season has been a whirlwind for Hillenbrand, who is with his third organization this year and fifth in the last two years.

Hillenbrand said he never asked to be let go by the Angels. He said he was approached by Angels management and told he might have a better chance to play regularly elsewhere.

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He hit .254 in 53 games with the Angels.

Hillenbrand caught on next with the San Diego Padres, who signed him to a minor league contract. He played for the Padres’ triple-A affiliate in Portland, but sensed his opportunity to move up to the big league club had slipped away when San Diego acquired Morgan Ensberg from Houston.

He said he exercised a 10-day escape clause in his contract.

He said being reunited with Little, who managed him in Boston, was “comforting” and that he won’t mind not being an everyday player when Garciaparra returns.

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Hillenbrand said his perspective on baseball has changed since his experience with the Toronto Blue Jays last season. He wouldn’t specify what happened when Manager John Gibbons challenged him to a fight but said reports of the account were inaccurate.

Since then, he said, “my expectations are a lot different.”

Center fielder Juan Pierre turned 30 on Tuesday. . . . Lakers guard Derek Fisher threw out the first pitch.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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