Without hearing exactly what was said, it was evident that this was just a skipper wanting to extend thanks to an injury-plagued player who continues to push himself to the limit.
Unfortunately for Garciaparra, the determination he displayed in the fourth inning of Thursday night's 4-1 loss to the Mets might have proven detrimental enough to end his season. Down 2-0 in this best-of-five National League Division Series, the Dodgers certainly need the veteran first baseman.
But with an aggravated quad injury that has plagued him for most of the past three weeks, there's no guarantee that Garciaparra will be available for Saturday's Game 3, or any other games that may be played in this series.
"We'll check him again tomorrow and see how he is," said Little, who has already given some indication that James Loney will likely start at first base in Game 3.
Since pulling his left quad during a Sept. 15 game against the Padres, Garciaparra has found a way to fight through the pain and give numerous contributions. But before Thursday night, he'd never quite aggravated the injury to this extent.
"It's pretty sore," said Garciaparra, who has also recently been bothered by a strained oblique muscle and a sprained right knee.
After his sharp grounder hit off Mets third baseman David Wright's glove and went toward shortstop Jose Reyes in Thursday's fourth inning, Garciaparra gave a little push to get down the line. He reached with an infield single, and felt the discomfort caused by tweaking the injury.
"Since it happened the first time, I've done a pretty good job of going out there and controlling myself," Garciaparra said. "Seeing that ball kick that way, I kind of pushed it. It obviously wasn't ready for that push, and it grabbed me again."
Although he was in pain, Garciaparra remained in the game until grounding out to begin the sixth inning. By that time, he said, the pain had reached a point where he could no longer be productive.
Still, Garciaparra hasn't completely ruled himself out of Saturday's game. He planned to undergo some treatment on the team's charter flight back to Los Angeles and will receive further medical care on Friday afternoon, during the team's workout at Dodger Stadium.
"I'll probably have a better indication tomorrow," Garciaparra said.
|"He's a gamer. He's going to keep pushing the best he can. I know at the end of the series, whenever that might be, he's not going to have anything left, because he'll give us everything."|
|-- Jeff Kent, on Nomar Garciaparra|
Had Garciaparra been nursing his injuries in April or May, Little said he likely would have given him an extended period to rest. But as the Dodgers were fighting to get into the postseason during the final weeks of September, they needed the wounded veteran -- and he delivered.
Three days after first suffering the quad injury, Garciaparra capped the Dodgers' dramatic Sept. 18 comeback against the Padres with a 10th-inning walk-off homer. Six days later, he hit a walk-off grand slam against the Diamondbacks.
Suddenly, he was bringing back memories of Kirk Gibson, who also hurt himself while playing for the Dodgers, in a 1988 NL Championship Series game at Shea Stadium. Gibson persevered through the pain, hitting three more homers during that postseason, with the last being the memorable walk-off homer in Game 1 of the World Series against the A's.
"[Garciaparra] came in there limping and nursing just about every injury you can have on your body," Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent said. "He's a gamer. He's going to keep pushing the best he can. I know at the end of the series, whenever that might be, he's not going to have anything left, because he'll give us everything."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.