Rafael Furcal, Andruw Jones and Nomar Garciaparra are scheduled to begin minor league rehab assignments with triple-A Las Vegas on Monday, with Furcal and Garciaparra saying they could be back in the Dodgers' lineup next weekend in San Francisco.
Jones, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery May 27, is aiming to return for the start of the second half of the season, July 18 in Arizona.
Signed to a two-year, $36.2-million contract in the off-season, Jones was hitting .165 with two home runs through 43 games when he was sidelined. Being out for so long, Jones said, let him do more than heal his body.
"It was a good thing to be off, to get your mind right, to get your heart right," Jones said.
There will be two phases to Jones' rehab, which will consist of 12 games. Phase 1, which will determine whether his knee is durable enough for him to play regularly, will take place over four games from Monday to Thursday. Jones will be the designated hitter in the first and third games, and play five innings in center field in the second and fourth games.
Jones will return to Los Angeles for three days and, if he doesn't suffer any setbacks, return to Las Vegas for eight games to get himself back into baseball shape.
Because of his troubles at the plate this season, Jones said it would be important for him to hit in Las Vegas.
"I don't want to go out there and strike out," he said. "If you don't get results, it can get frustrating."
When Garciaparra went out for a rehab assignment in Las Vegas last week that wound up lasting only one game, he did so as a shortstop, as the Dodgers figured he could play there until Furcal returned. But with Furcal close to returning, Garciaparra is planning to play primarily at third base.
Garciaparra said he would start playing third base immediately, and Furcal said he would spend the first game sharing designated-hitter duties with Jones.
Garciaparra said he thought he could be back by July 4 or 5. Furcal said he was looking at July 5 or 6 as possible return dates.
Shuttle service approved
The Los Angeles City Council on Friday unanimously approved spending $70,000 to cover the costs of a free shuttle service from Union Station to Dodger Stadium.
The shuttle buses would operate for every Dodgers home game, starting after the All-Star break next month and extending through the end of the season, with service starting 90 minutes before game time. The Dodgers plan to launch a marketing campaign by the next homestand in newspapers, on broadcasts, on the team website and at the ballpark.
While the city agreed to use $70,000 in available funds already earmarked for bus services, Councilman Bill Rosendahl wondered during a committee hearing why the Dodgers would not pick up any of the cost.
"We're not in the public transit business," Dodgers senior vice president Howard Sunkin said Friday. "Government is in the public transit business."
The service is considered a pilot program, with shuttles beyond this year dependent on available funding and on how many riders use the service this year.
Jason Schmidt remains scheduled to start his second minor league rehab assignment today. Schmidt will be on a pitch count of 45 when he starts for Las Vegas in Fresno. . . . Scott Proctor underwent an MRI exam that showed he had only tendinitis in his right elbow and no structural damage. Proctor, who was put on the disabled list Wednesday, won't throw for 10 days. . . . Bullpen coach Ken Howell is expected to sit out several games because of a medical condition that had him hospitalized Friday. Replacing him will be Jim Slaton, the pitching coach at Las Vegas.