PHOENIX (AP) -Nomar Garciaparra has a broken bone in his right hand, and the Los Angeles Dodgers' third baseman might not be ready for opening day.
Garciaparra had an MRI on Wednesday in Los Angeles that revealed a microfracture. The Dodgers do not consider the injury to be as serious as a complete fracture of a bone, and expect to know more once the 34-year-old is examined Thursday by the team's medical staff in Arizona.
A two-time AL batting champion, Garciaparra was hit by a pitch March 7 and has had pain in his hand ever since, making it difficult to swing a bat. He's had two X-rays and two MRIs, neither of which showed any structural damage in the area where he was struck.
``We'll see where Nomar's at in another week or so, and in the meantime, we'll continue to see if we can figure out (a replacement) from within or outside,'' general manager Ned Colletti said Wednesday.
Garciaparra took batting practice Tuesday, and had been throwing without any problems.
Tony Abreu and Blake DeWitt are thought to be the leading candidates to start at third on opening day if Garciaparra is not ready, although the 22-year-old DeWitt has never played above Double-A.
``Blake DeWitt's got a hell of an opportunity to hang out with the big boys,'' Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Wednesday.
Asked whether DeWitt is ready to play in the majors, Torre replied: ``Some people are saying yes, some people are saying maybe. Nobody says for sure that he's not ready.''
It's also possible the Dodgers might trade for a third baseman.
Garciaparra and prospect Andy LaRoche were expected to compete for the third base job when spring training began, but LaRoche tore a ligament in his right thumb the same day Garciaparra was hit in the hand. LaRoche is expected to be sidelined at least until the middle of May.
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