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DODGERS FYI

Furcal might test back in minors

June 03, 2008|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers haven't seen much of Rafael Furcal since he went on the disabled list with lower-back soreness a month ago. So when Furcal showed up in the clubhouse Monday afternoon with a new haircut, Manager Joe Torre feigned surprise.

"I'm sorry, but there are no visitors allowed," Torre joked.

Furcal may soon be doing more than visiting. He resumed batting practice Sunday and was on the field in uniform during pregame drills Monday.

"I feel much better. I have more strength," said Furcal, who is being patient in his rehabilitation. "I don't want to come [back] early if I'm not healthy. Because I don't want to step back. I want to come back [to] play all year."

Last season, Furcal started the schedule on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle then returned to the lineup before the ankle was fully healed and was never at full strength. As a result, Furcal said he's being more cautious this time.

"I'm guessing it's going to be a very methodical process here," Torre said.

Furcal, originally resistant to the idea of a minor league rehab assignment, said Monday he thought it was a good idea but refused to guess when he might be ready.

"I want to go for three or four games," he said. "Play, see what happens. Because I don't want to start here and get hurt."

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Furcal was batting .366 and leading the majors with 49 hits and 34 runs in 32 games when he went on the DL and the Dodgers' offense has ground to a halt without him. The team, four games over .500 when the shortstop went out, is 10-15 since, averaging nearly 2 1/2 fewer runs per game without him.

What's more, the Dodgers have gone 10 games without a hit from their shortstops, who are 0 for 32 over that span. Chin-lung Hu was the last Dodgers shortstop to get a hit when he went two for three in a May 23 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

"There are certain guys that certainly get your attention when you lose them," Torre said. "You miss someone with his ability and just his presence."

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Andruw Jones said he was relieved doctors didn't find any additional problems during arthroscopic surgery last week to repair ligament damage in his right knee.

"When he told me that, it was a good feeling. Because I've always had problems with my patellar tendon," said Jones, who resumed throwing Monday and is already rehabbing his leg with weights.

"It feels better," he said. "The pain that I had in the back, there's not much soreness in there anymore."

Jones is hoping to return to the lineup before next month's All-Star break.

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With the June amateur draft only three days away, the Dodgers worked out high school prospects Zach Collier of Chino Hills and Cutter Dykstra of Westlake Village at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers are reportedly considering taking the 17-year-old Collier, a left-handed power-hitting outfielder with speed, with their first-round pick provided the Cardinals and Washington Nationals -- also said to be interested -- don't take him first.

Dykstra, the son of former major league outfielder Lenny Dykstra, is an athletic player who started as a middle infielder before moving to center field. He was selected to Baseball America's preseason All-American team but could fall into the third or fourth round of the draft.

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Nomar Garciaparra took batting practice, four days after undergoing a battery of tests aimed at determining why his strained left calf has been slow to heal. Results of those tests, the Dodgers said, were not available. . . . Jason Schmidt's 30-day minor league rehab assignment, scheduled to end June 10, will be extended after Schmidt was hit on the leg with a batted ball in his last start, which came Saturday. . . . Catcher Gary Bennett, on the disabled list with what is officially being termed a foot injury, is expected to play with the Dodgers' San Bernardino affiliate tonight in a California League game at Lake Elsinore.

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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