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Nixon progressing in rehab
04/14/2004  8:49 PM ET
BOSTON -- The one thing right fielder Trot Nixon has over his teammates right now is some good baseball weather.

   Trot Nixon  /   RF
Born: 04/11/74
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

And so it was that as the Red Sox were about to be postponed for the second day in a row, Nixon took some hacks in the cage at the University of Miami.

Of course, Nixon would trade the palm trees and the warm sun for his Red Sox uniform in an instant, if only his back was ready for it.

Instead, he continues to trudge along in his rehab, feeling gradual progress from the herniated disc that washed away his Spring Training.

Nixon -- who spoke to reporters via satellite on Wednesday -- still hopes to be back in the Boston lineup by early May.

"I think the minute I sit here and guess about what kind of time frame I'm going to be on, it might not happen," said Nixon. "If I was looking at a time frame, I would like it to be, probably the end of April, first week in May.

"I'd like to be back, obviously for this weekend series against the Yankees. But I missed all of Spring Training, so I need to get back into baseball shape before I get back on the field. The last thing I want to do when I get on the field is hurt my teammates by not being prepared physically to do what I need to do."

The left-handed hitter has been working out at the University of Miami Spine Institute since March 29, under the supervision Dr. Barth Green, a noted orthopedist.

He is easing his way back into baseball activities. Nixon, provided he responds well to Wednesday's batting practice, will take more swings on Friday.

Nixon is encouraged by the way he is progressing.

"I feel real well. I'm getting stronger day in and day out," Nixon said. "I've actually shed a few pounds down here. I'm just trying to be as careful as I possibly can with this back problem. I don't want it to escalate into anything different."

He views this injury as more of an annoyance than anything else.

"It's not a bad problem. It's just a matter of getting a hold of it and understanding what I need to do to get myself better," Nixon said. "I don't really call it pain, I call it more of a nag. On a scale of zero to 10, [pain] is about a one, one and a half right now. Things are getting a lot better from where they were back in Spring Training."

What pains Nixon the most is being away from his teammates, who have gotten off to a 4-3 start without him.

"I miss my teammates, I miss being around them, I miss the great camaraderie we have in that clubhouse," said Nixon. "I miss the fans obviously and my family. It's difficult being down here and being away from baseball. [Red Sox games are] not on TV as much as I would like them to be. Hopefully I can find a place to watch more games and stay involved. The most important thing is to stay on track down here and continue to work out six, seven hours a day with a therapist to get back into shape and back on the field."

Manager Terry Francona's only demand of Nixon is that he doesn't rush himself back too soon.

"I'll be glad when he's back. But I also want him to be back when he's healthy," Francona said. "If I start saying we need him back by May 1st, that's not fair. Because knowing him, the little I do, he'll do anything to get back here. We want him to come back and be ready to play. We want him to be healthy when he comes back."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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