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Saturday, October 7, 2006
Garciaparra, Thome win comeback player awards

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Re-emerging with the Los Angeles Dodgers after two injury-shortened seasons with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, Nomar Garciaparra was voted NL Comeback Player of the Year.

 Jim Thome
Thome

 Nomar Garciaparra
Garciaparra

Jim Thome was the AL winner in his first season with the Chicago White Sox.

Garciaparra won the award despite playing the final weeks of the season with an injured oblique muscle and left quadriceps, which he tore during Thursday night's NL playoff game against the New York Mets. The 33-year-old first baseman played in 122 games and hit .303 with 20 homers and 93 RBI, making his sixth All-Star Game.

Garciaparra, who played a total of 143 games in 2004-05, received 72,054 votes in fan balloting announced Saturday by the commissioner's office.

"It's quite an honor, I'm fortunate to win something like that," he said. "I've always said it's a byproduct of my team. These guys are special guys."

That might be so, but Garciaparra is eligible to become a free agent after the World Series and might not be back next season. He said he hasn't thought about that yet.

"There's been a lot going on," he said. "I've loved every minute of it here."

The former shortstop grew up in nearby Whittier.

"Well-deserved -- he along with Jim Thome," Dodgers manager Grady Little said regarding the honor.

Thome, dealt to Chicago by Philadelphia last November after the emergence of Ryan Howard, batted .288 with 42 homers, 109 RBI and 107 walks. He received 55,587 votes.

The margin of victory for Garciaparra and Thome was unknown. Major League Baseball would not release vote totals for other players in the balloting, spokeswoman Susan Goodenow said.

Voting was conducted on MLB.com. The Yankees' Jason Giambi and Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. won the inaugural awards last year.