Garciaparra grew up in the Red Sox organization and played for Boston from 1996 until he was dealt to the Cubs last July 31. He is to receive his ring in a private ceremony sometime this weekend. The Red Sox had decided that every player, even if he played just one inning for the 2004 team, would get a ring.
"There's really no need for it to be public, especially here," Garciaparra said. "I'm in a wonderful place here and this city, this organization, these guys are trying every day to get that ultimate thing -- to get that ring."
That ring is something Cubs fans wanted Garciaparra to help bring to the city of Chicago as well. However, he's been sidelined since April 20 with a groin injury. Garciaparra could hug his former teammates, like Trot Nixon and Johnny Damon, and joke with Red Sox manager Terry Francona during batting practice. But he isn't close to being ready to play.
"It's painful -- my groin hurts," Garciaparra said. "But it is what it is. I would love to be out there playing right now aside from not only the Red Sox being in town, but just not being able to go out there and play."
Sprinkled throughout the crowd during batting practice were numerous Garciaparra jerseys. The No. 5 Cubs jerseys were dominant, but there were a few Red Sox versions as well.
Ahmed Chaudhary, 23, was wearing a navy blue Garciaparra jersey and watching the shorstop in front of the Red Sox dugout. Chaudhary had just flown in from Providence, R.I., Friday morning to take part in the weekend series.
"It's interesting to see him hanging out with the guys," Chaudhary said. "Seeing him joke around earlier with Johnny Damon and talk to Manny (Ramirez), it's kind of cool to see, honestly.
"We wish he was playing so we could see him," Chaudhary said. "I like Nomar, just not as much as I used to."
The support from fans means a lot to Garciaparra.
"As a player, I can't think of anything more special than to see that," Garciaparra said of the fans who wear his No. 5. "[Boston] will always be there in my heart. Fortunately for me, I'm in another beautiful place, too, that has a big spot in my heart. I must have somebody up there looking after me because I've been pretty blessed. Two wonderful, wonderful cities that have great fans."
Garciaparra is rehabbing in Arizona. He has been able to jog about 60 yards, which he calls "heavier walks," and hopes to start swinging off a tee next week.
"I'm healing every day, which is good," Garciaparra said. "Definitely some intense workouts, definitely some pain, some things I'm going to have to get through and also see how it recovers after the intense workouts."
Kevin Hartmann was one of the lucky fans who snared a ticket for Friday's game, the first between the two storied franchises since the 1918 World Series. He can't wait for Garciaparra to add to his ring collection, hopefully in Chicago.
"I go to school near Boston and I stared watching him before he was a Cub, and became even more of a fan when he came here," Hartmann said. "I just hope he can win a ring for us Cubs fans, too."
Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.