Notes: Garciaparra rejoins team
Gonzalez enjoys return to Tampa, drills milestone homer
ST. PETERSBURG -- Nomar Garciaparra was back in the clubhouse on Sunday, a little sniffly but definitely on the upswing after illness kept him from the ballpark Saturday.
"I told them I was ready today, and available for whatever they needed me to do," he said.
In an effort to keep the bug from spreading to the rest of team, the Dodgers sent their first baseman back to the hotel on Saturday. Once there, Garciaparra said he alternated between sleep, drinking plenty of fluids and watching the game.
Not on the television -- the local hotel didn't carry the channel that broadcast the game -- but on his laptop.
Garciaparra said he felt well enough to play, and that he'd communicated that to manager Grady Little. He wasn't in the starting lineup, but Little didn't rule out using him as an offensive weapon should the situation arise.
"I prefer to try to win the game," Little said. "If he feels like doing something to help us win the game, then we can use him."
Garciaparra isn't the only one affected by the illness, his teammates may unknowingly be suffering as well: The Dodgers first baseman is a career .303 hitter at Tropicana Field (76-for-251), with 14 doubles, a triple, 15 homers, 45 RBIs, 25 walks and two stolen bases.
Gonzalez looks back: Luis Gonzalez was born and raised about 25 minutes from Tropicana Field in Tampa, where he still makes his home. The 39-year-old celebrated his homecoming Friday with a home run, a triple and two RBIs in the Dodgers' win, and then paused to think about his hometown.
"What's exciting to me is that there have been so many great players to come out of this area," he said. "From Al Lopez to Lou Piniella, Tony La Russa, [Wade] Boggs, [Dave] Magadan ... all those guys. To add your name to the list of guys, it was always my dream as a little kid."
Gonzalez also visited the field where he played Little League as a youngster before his days at Jefferson High. It's a field in West Tampa the Devil Rays recently revamped in order to keep the area's baseball interest growing, and a project Gonzalez wouldn't mind having a hand in in the future.
"It's exciting to see these guys giving back," he said. "Hopefully I'll be involved after the season and try to help out around here, because this is where my roots are."
Here's the question: Sunday marked the sixth straight game the Dodgers have played on artificial turf. Other than the Rays' home at Tropicana Field, there are only two Major League venues that still use turf instead of grass. Can you name them?
This and that: With a first-inning homer Sunday, Gonzalez moved into third-place all-time for career homers as a left fielder, behind just Barry Bonds and Ted Williams and ahead of Babe Ruth. His two-run shot was the first to ever land in the right-center-field aquarium. ... Andre Ethier was given a day off Sunday after he went 2-for-4 one night prior.
Down on the farm: The Triple-A 51s lost, 9-2, to Fresno on Saturday after Miguel Pinango allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. ... Double-A Jacksonville won its 12th straight, 5-2, over Carolina. Closer Jonathan Meloan fanned the side in the ninth for his 14th save of the year. ... Javy Guerra yielded seven runs in 5 1/3 innings during Class A Inland Empire's 8-3 loss to Lake Elsinore.
And the answer is: The Twins' Metrodome and the Blue Jays' Rogers Centre are the lone parks to prefer artificial to the real thing. Jeff Kent doesn't mind, though -- he's hitting .400 this year on turf.
Up next: The Dodgers set out on the second leg of their road trip by kicking off a four-game set at Arizona on Monday. Brad Penny (9-1, 2.12 ERA) will toe the rubber for Los Angeles, and the D-backs will counter with righty Micah Owings (5-1, 4.06). Game time is set for 6:40 p.m. PT.
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.