Red Sox remain cautious

At this point, forgive the Red Sox if they've forgotten whether they're waiting for Godot or two of their injured players.

The Sox have been without the services of shortstop Nomar Garciaparra (Achilles tendinitis) and outfielder Trot Nixon (herniated disc and pulled quad) since the start of the season, and there's still no definite return date for either.

Then again, timetables haven't meant much -- or been very accurate -- since both players went down to injuries in spring training.

Originally, Garciaparra was expected to miss only a few days. Then, sights were set on Opening Day. Eventually, the goal was May. Now ... who knows?

Garciaparra has been working out every day at Fenway and has stepped up his activity. But as manager Terry Francona pointed out Monday, Garciaparra still hasn't been able to go "full bore yet. He'll have to do that, and do it back-to-back [days before going on a rehab assignment].''

Once the rehab assignment begins -- assuming no further setbacks -- Garciaparra could be ready in about a week. He'll be re-evaluated Friday when the Sox return home form their current road trip, but Francona wasn't willing to speculate that he'd be ready by the start of June.

"June 1 means nothing,'' he said. "It's just a date. Whether it's May 29 or June 3, we just want to get him back healthy.''

Nixon would have already been healthy were it not for pulling his quad muscle a few weeks ago. He was nearly ready to begin a rehab stint in the lower minors when the other injury took place.

The good news? Since he did a stint at the University of Miami Spinal Institute to strengthen his back, the disc hasn't caused any problems. Nixon went 3-for-4 Wednesday night in an extended spring training game.

The bad news? Still no timetable to get back in the Boston lineup.

"I have to take it day-to-day,'' said Nixon. "If I put a timetable [on getting back into the Sox lineup], I might push myself back to meet that and take a few steps back.''

Though the Sox are playing at a .600 clip, they could use the reinforcements. They're averaging more than a run less than last year and their error total (35) -- second-most in the AL -- is frighteningly high.

Sean McAdam of the Providence (R.I.) Journal covers baseball for ESPN.com.