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03/20/08 7:20 PM ET

Nomar now 'doubtful' for Opening Day

Third baseman's broken hand worse than Dodgers believed

PHOENIX -- Nomar Garciaparra's broken hand is worse than club officials believed a day earlier, and Dodgers manager Joe Torre said on Thursday his third baseman is "doubtful" for Opening Day.

On Wednesday, the Dodgers announced that a new MRI exam revealed a microfracture of a bone at the base and on top of Garciaparra's right hand, a previously undetected injury suffered when he was hit by a pitch on March 7. The optimistic prognosis issued by the club on Wednesday was that Garciaparra might be able to swing a bat as early as this weekend.

But Garciaparra said that won't happen. Reluctant to place a time frame on his recovery, he did say he would not swing a bat during the club's Cactus League stint, which ends Tuesday, because that is the one motion that causes pain.

"Everybody wants to predict. I'm not," said Garciaparra. "I have no control over it. I'm looking one day at a time. That's all I can do."

Torre went further.

"I don't anticipate him being ready for Opening Day," said Torre, listing rookie Tony Abreu, Blake DeWitt and Chin-lung Hu as the leading candidates to play third base, with Andy LaRoche's hand still in a cast after surgery for a torn ligament.

Torre said Abreu was the logical frontrunner because he played the position successfully in the Major Leagues last year, but he's also been unable to stay on the field as he heals slowly from October surgery to repair a sports hernia.

"He's a very important piece for us," Torre said of Abreu.

General manager Ned Colletti said he was relatively comfortable with the list of in-house candidates. He downplayed the chances of obtaining a player from outside the organization as a short-term substitute, with even less of a chance of acquiring a front-line third baseman, anticipating that Garciaparra won't be out long and knowing that LaRoche and DeWitt are expected to handle the position well into the future.

"Just because he's on the DL for a week, doesn't mean we'll do something drastic to cover us for one week," said Colletti, who could put Garciaparra on the disabled list retroactively one week.

DeWitt has the current buzz, and he started at third base on Thursday in the Dodgers' first "home" game in Arizona against the White Sox at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

"Don't jump to conclusions," said Colletti. "He's still in camp, has played a lot of innings and somebody we're taking a look at, but it would be unfair to put too much stock in him being the Opening Day third baseman. He's somebody we're taking a look, a solid look."

Adding DeWitt to the 40-man roster would get the clock started on his protection timetable sooner than necessary, but Colletti said he wasn't worried about that.

Said Torre of the 22-year-old DeWitt: "I'm not saying he's the option, but coming from the Minor League side, he finds himself playing every day, which is interesting. The youngster has caught people's attention in camp. How long will this be for? We'll have to wait until the beginning of next week to figure out how long we'll be without Nomar."

Garciaparra conceded that by trying to hit without knowledge of the fracture, "I might have hurt the healing process. Whatever's done is done. I'd rather know something is wrong than to keep hearing, 'You're fine, you're fine,' and it keeps hurting. Now there is a reason why it's hurting."

Garciaparra relayed doctors' theories on why he would be hit with a pitch on the outside of the hand and suffer a break several inches away.

"It could be a chain reaction of all the bones getting squished together and the end of the train took the brunt of it," he said. "Also, the way the bat is situated when I tried to get out of the way. That could have caused stress there."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.