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Dodgers' Rafael Furcal says wildfire was 'nerve-wracking'

While he was with the team in Cincinnati, his family and their house in La Cañada Flintridge survived a harrowing few days.

September 01, 2009|Jim Peltz

The Dodgers' just-completed trip was especially tough on shortstop Rafael Furcal, whose family was forced to evacuate their house in the La Canada Flintridge area during his absence because of the massive wildfire.

The house wasn't damaged and his family was allowed to move back Sunday as Furcal returned with the Dodgers from their series with the Cincinnati Reds.

But he said the prior three days were nerve-wracking because it wasn't known whether his house would survive.

"My family had to move" after it became clear that it was "going to be ugly," Furcal said before the start of Monday's game with the Arizona Diamondbacks. "I couldn't sleep."

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre didn't start Furcal on Monday, partly to rest him and partly because of "everything personally going on with him, too, aside from playing every single day."

Referring to the fire, "everything seems to be quieting down for him in that regard, which is good news," Torre said.

Furcal said "the fire came all the way down" the mountain, and was as close to his house as the 90 feet "from home plate to first base."

When his wife first called to report the fire, Furcal said he told her: "You know what? Pick one of the cars and get out of there, no matter. Life is more important than anything."

Belliard's arrival

Veteran infielder Ronnie Belliard took up residence in the Dodgers' clubhouse next to one of his favorite players, Manny Ramirez, after being acquired from the Washington Nationals.

Torre promptly put Belliard in Monday's lineup at second base to give Orlando Hudson a rest.

"It feels good" to join the club, Belliard said, noting that "I was in last place" with the Nationals "and I find myself in first place."

"My main thing is to contribute, to help, whatever it takes," said Belliard, 34, who switched to jersey No. 3 with the Dodgers after wearing No. 10 with the Nationals.

Belliard did just that in the second inning Monday, hitting a solo home run in his first at-bat as a Dodger.

Although the Dodgers already have such veteran backup infielders as Mark Loretta and Juan Castro, Belliard "gives us another level of experience coming off the bench and versatility," Torre said.

Belliard, who was acquired for minor league pitcher Luis Garcia and a player to be named, can play all infield positions and "can only help us, can't hurt us," Torre said.

Belliard was hitting only .246 entering Monday's game, but he had enjoyed a strong August, batting .361 in 24 games.

He was teammates with Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake when both played for the Cleveland Indians in 2004-05 and helped the Cardinals win the World Series in 2006 after being traded to St. Louis that year.

To clear room for Belliard, the Dodgers placed reliever Guillermo Mota on the 15-disabled list because of a painful ingrown toenail, Torre said.

Mota had allowed seven runs and 12 hits in his last 11 1/3 innings.

Short hops

The Dodgers plan to announce today which players would be called up now that major league teams are able to expand their active rosters up to 40 players. One expected addition is infielder Doug Mientkiewicz, who has been in rehabilitation from April shoulder surgery. . . . Starter Hiroki Kuroda, placed on the disabled list after being hit in the head by a line drive Aug. 15, plans to pitch today for the Class-A Inland Empire and "if that goes well, he'll be a consideration for Sunday" to start against San Diego, Torre said.


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