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DODGERS FYI

Team is having double trouble

May 31, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- James Loney and Russell Martin hit back-to-back doubles in a three-run first inning Friday in a kind of sequence that has become rare for the Dodgers in recent weeks.

In the 13 games from May 16 to Thursday, the Dodgers had only 16 extra-base hits, the lowest total in the majors over that span. Tied for second-worst were the Angels and St. Louis Cardinals with 27.

"It'd be nice to start driving the ball," Martin said. "We have guys who can do that."

Hitting coach Mike Easler laughed when asked about the Dodgers' recent power outage.

"Power?" he asked. "We've been out of everything."

Over the 13-game period in question, the Dodgers averaged less than three runs a game. In the last week, they hit .218 as a team.

Martin said that the lack of extra-base hits should force the team to become more of the kind of small-ball team that Manager Joe Torre has envisioned them being.

"We're definitely that type of team," Martin said. "You don't have to mash to score."

With the team slumping, Easler said he made sure to emphasize during a team meeting Thursday that he was always available to them. A few hours before the game Friday, Easler said, there was a line of players waiting outside the batting cages to work with him.

"It was a beautiful thing, man," Easler said. "They've got that fight."

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Rafael Furcal is unlikely to be ready for the start of the Dodgers' upcoming homestand Monday, Torre said.

Furcal, who leads the Dodgers with a .366 average but hasn't played since May 5, visited back specialist Dr. Michael Watkins on Thursday. Watkins recommended that Furcal continue to strengthen his trunk as a means of relieving pressure from his back.

Watkins didn't provide a timetable for Furcal's return, trainer Stan Conte said. Torre has said that because of the time Furcal has missed, he probably would have to play a few rehab games in the minors before being activated.

The Dodgers are 19-14 when Furcal is their starting shortstop and 8-13 when he isn't, after Friday's victory.

Conte said that Furcal should start playing catch by today to maintain shoulder strength.

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Backup catcher Gary Bennett, on the disabled list because of a foot injury, will begin a minor league rehab assignment with Class-A Inland Empire on Monday. Bennett has been in Vero Beach working on his problem of returning throws to the mound.

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Andruw Jones, who underwent surgery on his right knee Tuesday, is walking without crutches, riding a stationary bicycle and lifting weights.

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Takashi Saito says he isn't the most recognized Japanese member of the Dodgers and that Hiroki Kuroda probably isn't either. The title, Saito says, belongs to their trilingual interpreter, Kenji Nimura.

When the three of them dine together at a Japanese restaurant in the Los Angeles area, Saito said, "People know him more than me and Kuro."

Nimura used to host a television show on a local station that taught Japanese speakers Spanish called "Poquito Spanish." He has lived in Japan, the United States and Spain.

Saito said that it had become the norm for waitresses to ignore him and Kuroda and ask Nimura, "Are you Kenji Sensei?"

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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