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DODGERS FYI

Rafael Furcal takes cautious approach on basepaths

Shortstop says he is less aggressive because of concern for his surgically repaired back.

September 13, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

SAN FRANCISCO — Rafael Furcal said that while his surgically repaired back hasn't caused him any physical problems this season, it has affected his thinking on the basepaths.

Furcal had six steals in 133 games through Friday.

He had eight steals in 36 games in his injury-shortened 2008 season. In his first two seasons with the Dodgers, he stole 62 bases, including 25 in a 2007 season that he spent hobbled by a sprained left ankle.

"The back is to a person what a motor is to a car," Furcal said recently. "I'm taking some precautions. This is my first year back from that injury. I'll be back next year a little stronger."

Furcal stole a career-high 46 bases in 2005 with the Atlanta Braves.

"I'm someone who steals 30, 35 bases a year," he said. "This year, I have, what, six? But at least I've stayed on the field."

Part of it is strategy, as Furcal says he has been more willing to not run and let the hitters behind him try to move him over.

As healthy as Furcal has felt this season, he said he is often reminded of the ordeal he went through last year when he wakes up in the morning.

"It doesn't hurt, but it feels tight," he said. "Once I come to the park and I warm up, I'm fine."

Furcal has spent most of his off-seasons playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic, but said he doesn't plan to do that this year.

"I've had 600 plate appearances," he said. "I have to rest my body."

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Penny, Bowa make peace

If you were looking forward to seeing Brad Penny and Larry Bowa fighting, well, don't count on it.

Brought together by a Bay Area sportswriter, Penny and Bowa settled their differences in a face-to-face meeting Saturday afternoon.

The San Francisco Giants pitcher and Dodgers third base coach openly feuded in the spring, trading barbs through the media.

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Blake tests leg

If there were any questions about the left hamstring that sidelined Casey Blake for four games, they were answered when he scored from first base on Russell Martin's double in his first game back Friday night.

"It was kind of a tough call for Bo," he said, referring to Bowa. "I'm glad he sent me."

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Short hops

Andre Ethier was out of the lineup because he was one for nine in his career against Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez. "I think he's swinging the bat well right now and I didn't want to mess it up," said Manager Joe Torre, who started Juan Pierre in place of Ethier. Pierre began the game with two doubles in three career at-bats against Sanchez. . . . Randy Wolf threw on flat ground and said his irritated elbow felt "98%" healed. Wolf remains a candidate to pitch Tuesday. . . . Left-hander Clayton Kershaw also threw, pitching off a mound for the first time since separating his non-throwing shoulder Sept. 6 while shagging balls. Kershaw said that he still felt some pain in his right shoulder on his follow through.

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Times columnist T.J. Simers contributed to this report.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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DODGERS TODAY

AT SAN FRANCISCO

When: 1 p.m.

Where: AT&T Park.

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket, TBS; Radio: 790, 930.

Pitchers: Chad Billingsley vs. Brad Penny.

Update: Billingsley remains in a rut, as he enters this game on a four-start winless streak. The last time he pitched more than six innings was July 5. Billingsley didn't have his best stuff in his last outing, but relied on his curveball to limit Arizona to four runs and eight hits in six innings. Penny was 7-8 with a 5.61 earned-run with Boston, which released him last month. He is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two starts for the Giants.

-- Dylan Hernandez

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