HOUSTON -- The injury-depleted Dodgers have decided to end the minor league rehab assignments of veterans Nomar Garciaparra and Andruw Jones early and will activate both players this afternoon before the start of a three-game series in San Francisco.
Both are expected to play today, Jones in center field and Garciaparra at shortstop, a position he hasn't played regularly since 2004.
"I think we have to look at him," Manager Joe Torre said of Garciaparra, who will replace Angel Berroa (.194) and Luis Maza (.225) in the middle of the infield. "It's going to be a feel thing. He's coming off two straight stints on the DL. I just don't want to push that envelope."
Garciaparra, limited to nine games by hand and calf injuries, hasn't played since April 25. Jones, who had knee surgery five weeks ago, was battling both knee and weight issues the first two months of the season and took a .165 batting average -- and 45 strikeouts in 43 games -- with him to the disabled list.
The five-time All-Star, who has been working with former Seattle Mariners hitting coach Jeff Pentland in Las Vegas, went four for eight with a home run and three RBIs in three minor league rehab games.
"Getting that feel as a hitter is so important. I don't care what level you're at," Torre said. "I think the mechanical [problem] was probably finding a way to sit on that knee where it wouldn't hurt."
Shortstop Rafael Furcal underwent surgery on his back Thursday morning in Marina del Rey. Dr. Robert Watkins, who performed the 75-minute procedure, said there were no complications and Furcal was to be released this morning. He will begin rehabbing in a few days.
Jason Schmidt made his sixth minor league rehab start Thursday, going 2 1/3 innings against Salt Lake and giving up four runs, three earned, and six hits at Las Vegas. He didn't strike out a batter.
Schmidt, scheduled to throw 60 pitches, threw 58, 38 for strikes.
The right-hander, who had his 2007 season cut short by shoulder surgery, hasn't pitched for the Dodgers in nearly 13 months. Barring any setbacks, he could rejoin the team by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, Brad Penny, on the DL since June 15, will not start Saturday as planned. Torre elected to have the right-hander, who threw a bullpen session Thursday, make at least one more rehab start before rejoining the rotation, perhaps next week.
"We both think he could be a little sharper," Torre said.
Chan Ho Park will start in Penny's place against the Giants.
Not your average Joe
Fan voting for the All-Star game is over with both the American and National League teams to be announced Sunday. And barring a last-minute surge at the polls, it's unlikely any Dodgers will make the starting lineup.
Torre expects Russell Martin, last year's NL starter who is batting a team-best .306, to be selected to represent the club although a case could also be made for left-handed reliever Joe Beimel.
"Beimel would certainly come to mind for me," Torre said. "But the guys who pick the team, they look at starters and closers," he said.
Beimel, who led all big league left-handers with 83 appearances last year, hasn't given up a run since May 29 and is 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA in a team-high 38 games this season.
"I'm not counting on it," Beimel said of the All-Star game. "If it happens, it happens. It would be pretty awesome. As a middle reliever, it's kind of a tough thing to do."
Jeff Kent left Thursday's game in the fifth inning because of back stiffness but neither he nor trainer Stan Conte consider the problem serious and Kent is likely to play today.