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Furcal told to cease baseball activities

June 13, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers have told shortstop Rafael Furcal to cease all baseball activities, raising the possibility his recovery from a back injury could extend well into July.

"He's gotten a little frustrated," Manager Joe Torre said.

The Dodgers officially list the injury as soreness in the lower back, but Torre confirmed the specific diagnosis is a bulging disk. Dr. Robert Watkins, the back specialist who examined Furcal this week, advised the Dodgers to halt Furcal's baseball activities and limit his workouts to conditioning and strengthening exercises.

"The strength needs to be at a higher level to protect him long-term," Dodgers athletic trainer Stan Conte said.

Conte said Furcal has played with a bulging disk earlier in his career. Before this season, Furcal never had been put on the disabled list because of a back injury.

Furcal, 30, is eligible for free agency this fall. He is batting .366, and has scored 34 runs in 32 games.

Coming soon

The Dodgers have targeted June 25 for Nomar Garciaparra to take over at shortstop. Garciaparra did not fly with the Dodgers to Detroit on Thursday, and he is expected to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment within the next few days.

"We'll know more once he starts playing those games," Torre said.

Garciaparra, recovering from a calf injury, cannot be activated from the disabled list before June 25.

The Dodgers first tried to replace Furcal with rookie Chin-lung Hu, who hit .159 before they sent him to triple-A Las Vegas. The latest replacement, Angel Berroa, is hitting .167 through four games, with four strikeouts in 12 at-bats.

Two out

Center fielder Matt Kemp accepted a two-game suspension for fighting with Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba in a game last week at Dodger Stadium.

Juan Pierre, the regular center fielder last season, started there Thursday. Kemp will complete the suspension today.

He had appealed the original four-game suspension.

In lieu of an appeal hearing, he accepted a two-game penalty Thursday morning.

"It's fair," Kemp said. "There were going to be some kind of consequences."

Kuo to go

Hong-Chih Kuo pitched on consecutive days for the first time this season, a possible indication the Dodgers are comfortable increasing his workload in the bullpen. The left-hander had surgery on his pitching elbow for the third time last year.

Kuo struck out five in two innings Thursday, and his earned-run average is 2.01. He has pitched 23 1/3 innings in May and June, with two walks and 27 strikeouts.

"Right now, I have enough confidence in his ability to throw strikes," Torre said. "That was the question mark earlier in the season."

Short hops

It's 23 days since the last save for closer Takashi Saito. . . . Reliever Scott Proctor gave up four hits -- and three hard-hit outs -- in a mop-up inning. His ERA is a team-high 5.72. After the game, Proctor sat alone, staring into his locker, long after many of his teammates had showered, dressed and left the clubhouse. . . . Infielder Terry Tiffee cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to triple-A Las Vegas.


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