CLEVELAND -- Injuries may have robbed Nomar Garciaparra of some of the abilities that made him a Boston icon for nine seasons, but that won't make his return to Fenway Park any less special.

On Monday, Garciaparra will make his first return to Boston as an opposing player since being traded to the Cubs just before the Trade Deadline in 2004. He has been back to the city several times, but never as a player.

It should be a welcomed return by both parties.

"My experience there was unbelievable," Garciaparra said. "They embraced me, and I embraced them. It will always be a part of my life."

Garciaparra was stunned when he was traded from Boston in 2004. He was named an All-Star five times and won two batting titles with the Red Sox. But his skills had eroded some and the Red Sox decided they needed more defense.

Later that year, Boston won its first World Series since 1918. But Garciaparra said he got constant updates from teammates and wasn't disappointed with the way things turned out.

"I got my ring for that," Garciaparra said. "My whole thing was to finally win one for the city, and I did that. I celebrated probably the same way if I had been there."

Since leaving Boston, Garciaparra has struggled to stay healthy. He has a condition called exertional compartment syndrome, which effects his calves and limits how much he can play. He hasn't played in more than 122 games in a season in the last five-plus years with the Cubs, Dodgers and A's. He considered retirement before signing on with Oakland in Spring Training in a utility role.

The 35-year-old has been on the disabled list twice this season. Since returning from his last stint on June 12, he has appeared in 17 of the A's 21 games. On Friday, he got his first start in the field (first base) since returning.

Manager Bob Geren isn't sure how much Garciaparra will play in the field in Boston.

Garciaparra is hitting .252 with two home runs and 10 RBIs this season. While those aren't close to the numbers he put up with the Red Sox, Garciaparra is doing what he can to help.

"I'm going to keep going the way I'm going," Garciaparra said. "You can't change what I have. I came here as a utility player and that's what I am. I'll give a guy a blow when I can. If it was up to me, I'd play every day. But it's not."

Pitching matchup
OAK: LHP Brett Anderson (4-7, 5.45 ERA)
Last Monday, Anderson turned in 5 1/3 solid innings in his first start since June 20, beating virtually the same Tigers lineup that pounded him for nine runs (three earned) over 3 1/3 innings in Detroit on May 15. Given four extra days of rest after complaining of forearm tightness following his previous start, Anderson gave up one run on four hits and four walks while striking out seven to pick up his first win since June 4.

BOS: RHP John Smoltz (0-1, 6.00 ERA)
Smoltz was well on his way to victory No. 1 as a member of the Red Sox rotation last Tuesday in Baltimore, but a rain delay shortened the right-hander's outing to four innings. After mixed results against Washington in his season debut, the 42-year-old held the Orioles to one run on three hits in an eventual 11-10 Boston loss. Making his first start of the season at Fenway Park, where he has not allowed an earned run in 20 2/3 career innings, Smoltz is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in three lifetime appearances (one start) against Oakland.

Tidbits
Jason Giambi was not in Sunday's lineup against the Indians. Giambi was hitting an American League-low .197 on the season going into Sunday's game. Geren said he needed the rest. "He's definitely in need of [a day off]," Geren said. "We've got to take care of him. He's played a lot of baseball and worked very hard." ... The A's had no extra-base hits for the sixth time this season on Saturday. ... Oakland is 3-8-2 in road series this year.

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Up next
• Tuesday: Athletics (Dallas Braden, 6-7, 3.13) at Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 9-3, 3.67), 4:10 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: Athletics (Trevor Cahill, 5-7, 4.55) at Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 10-3, 4.30), 4:10 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Off-day