Nomar rejoins Cubs after surgery

Nomar rejoins Cubs after surgery

CHICAGO -- Nomar Garciaparra can laugh now but sneezing is still a problem. He's getting better.

Garciaparra rejoined the Chicago Cubs on Friday for the first time since undergoing surgery April 27 to reinforce the abdominal and groin musculature. He ruptured a tendon in his groin, but the operation did not reattach it. Instead, doctors decided to let that heal on its own and he had surgery to repair a lower abdominal muscle that connects to the same area where the tendon was.

"When they went in, they found more damage than they thought," Garciaparra said. "It's a good thing to go in there and repair that."

So, what can he do now?

"Not much," Garciaparra said. "After it was done, I said, 'You didn't tell me this was supposed to happen.' It was difficult to laugh for awhile. Sneezing is the worst, so I try not to do that."

Garciaparra, 31, won't be able to begin his rehab for four weeks.

"Everything goes from your abs, and you realize everything you do from getting up and getting out of bed is difficult," he said. "The good thing is you see progression every day. Just getting out of bed now, I can say it doesn't hurt as much or didn't take me quite as long. Moving around, walking around, getting in and out of a car, you realize I'm definitely on the right track."

Neither Garciaparra nor doctors have set a timetable for his return. He was injured April 20 as he ran out of the batter's box.

"I still believe I can get back before the end of the season," Garciaparra said. "After this, [the doctor] said, 'You're going to have to rest and not really do much. That doesn't mean it will change your timetable or when you're going to get back or your ability to get back.'

"Now you realize there was that much torn off from the bone from the ab," Garciaparra said. "He said, 'Now, you're going to have to give me four weeks to let it sit and recover.' It's such an important area where everything you do comes from that area. You don't want to jump the gun too soon because you tear that again and you're back to square one."

Garciaparra is one of six Cubs on the disabled list now, which has made it tough for the team.

"It's definitely tough but it's just unfortunate," Garciaparra said. "You wonder what's going on -- I think we have to change the water or something around here. At the same time, it also can make the team stronger. Everybody's going out there, and everybody's doing their thing. It tells you how much it is a team game."

Garciaparra missed the first 57 games of 2004 because of an Achilles problem. He said he doesn't feel sorry for himself.

"These are the cards that have been dealt to you," he said. "You can feel sorry and digress or say, 'All right, what can we do to move forward and progress and go back to the road of recovery?'"

The tear in the abdominal area was bigger than expected, he said, and the surgery was the appropriate way to take care of the problem.

He has yet to determine where he will rehab once given the go-ahead. One option would be to stay in Chicago. He could go to the team's facility in Mesa, Ariz.

"The one thing about it is, it's difficult because I need all that attention," Garciaparra said. "Sometimes it's hard for me to be with the team and say, 'Hey, trainer, I need all this attention. What about me?' They know that and I understand that. It's just a matter of where that may be -- whether it's still in Chicago or they send me to Arizona."

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