Short answer is Garciaparra

Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO -- For at least a day, Nomar Garciaparra was the answer to the question the Dodgers will be asking themselves in the days leading to the July 31 trade deadline: Who will replace Rafael Furcal at shortstop?

Garciaparra made a triumphant return Friday, to the position he last played regularly four seasons ago, in a 10-7 victory for the Dodgers over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T; Park that extended their winning streak to four games and put them half a game behind first-place Arizona in the NL West.

Activated from the disabled list on the same day as Andruw Jones, Garciaparra was two for four with two doubles, two runs batted in and a run scored. He fielded two grounders over seven errorless innings on defense behind starter Derek Lowe (6-8), who gave up five runs in five innings, and Hong-Chih Kuo, who tossed two scoreless innings in relief to lower his earned-run average to 1.86.

Jones had a much-less-celebrated comeback from knee surgery, striking out in his first four at-bats of an 0-for-5 day.


Considering Garciaparra’s troubles staying healthy -- the game Friday was his 10th of the season and first since April 25 -- the Dodgers aren’t counting on him to be the man to take over for Furcal, who underwent back surgery Thursday and could be sidelined for the rest of the season.

Garciaparra, who has had wrist and calf problems this season, isn’t making any guarantees. Asked how much he could play, Garciaparra replied, “I’m not going to lie -- I don’t know.”

General Manager Ned Colletti made it no secret that landing a shortstop would be his “primary” mission in the three-plus weeks leading to the trade deadline -- and that to do so he could break up the Dodgers’ previously untouchable core of young players.

“We’re more open-minded to who we may have to move than we’ve been in the past,” he said.

The in-house choices at shortstop, other than Garciaparra, include Angel Berroa, who is hitting .194, and Luis Maza, a natural second baseman who is hitting .225.

Already, the Dodgers have asked the Pittsburgh Pirates about Jack Wilson. But landing Wilson or any other shortstop at this stage probably would cost the Dodgers multiple players.

“It’s not an easy position to fill, especially mid-season, but we’re going to see,” Colletti said. “I don’t think anybody can look at Rafael, circle a date on the calendar and say, ‘We’ll see him then.’ ”

While Colletti searches, Torre said he would be careful in his handling of Garciaparra, who played three games with triple-A Las Vegas this week as part of a minor league rehab assignment. He was taken out of the game upon doubling in Russell Martin to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 9-5 in the top of the eighth and Torre said he would be rested in the series finale Sunday.

Of seeing the game from the vantage point of a shortstop, Garciaparra said, “It felt like a familiar place.”

He was also pleased with the way he felt at the plate, particularly with a bases-loaded walk he drew in a two-run third inning for the Dodgers that tied the score at 2-2.

Garciaparra started the Dodgers’ sixth inning by reaching base on an error by left fielder Fred Lewis, moving to second on a walk by Andy LaRoche and ignoring third base coach Larry Bowa’s stop sign to score on a single by Delwyn Young. The run was the first of five for the Dodgers that inning against rookie reliever Osiris Matos, who made his major league debut the previous day, and turned a 5-3 deficit into an 8-5 lead.