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Dodgers' Rafael Furcal close to rehabilitation assignment

The shortstop has been on the disabled list since June 4 because of a strained side muscle. Furcal was able to field grounders and throw Monday.

June 20, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Injured switch-hitter Rafael Furcal still feels slight discomfort when hitting from the left side, Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said.
Injured switch-hitter Rafael Furcal still feels slight discomfort when… (Jamie Sabau / Getty Images )

Sidelined shortstop Rafael Furcal could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment as soon as next week, trainer Stan Conte said.

Furcal was able to field grounders and throw Monday, something Conte described as a significant step, considering he was hurt doing exactly that. Furcal, who has batted .212 in 17 games, was put on the disabled list June 4 because of a strained side muscle.

Conte said Furcal is sprinting without any problems and can hit pain-free from the right side. He said the switch-hitter still feels slight discomfort when hitting from the left side.

"He could go out for a rehab assignment when we go on the road," Conte said.

The Dodgers open a three-game series in Minnesota on June 27.

Rookie Dee Gordon has taken over as the Dodgers' shortstop in Furcal's absence. Gordon went into Monday batting .298 with four steals in 12 games.

Scouting the system

Rubby De La Rosa has cracked the Dodgers' rotation. Javy Guerra is closing.

De La Rosa and Guerra were at the front of a wave of hard throwers in the Dodgers' system, according to farm director De Jon Watson.

"I think the strength in our system is our young pitching," Watson said.

Perhaps the most promising of the Dodgers' pitching prospects is Nate Eovaldi, a 21-year-old right-hander with a high-90s fastball. He has posted a 2.84 earned-run average as a starter for double-A Chattanooga and has 73 strikeouts in 631/3 innings.

Eovaldi's rotation mate, Allen Webster, has a mid-90s fastball and has a 2.65 ERA between Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and Chattanooga.

The hardest thrower in the double-A Lookouts' bullpen is Josh Wall, who has a fastball that clocks from 96-99 mph.

Shawn Tolleson and Steven Ames have also pitched well and have done so at multiple levels. Tolleson, who started the season in low-A Great Lakes, has posted a 0.73 ERA in 10 double-A appearances.

All-Star update

Matt Kemp has moved into fourth place among National League outfielders in the latest round of All-Star balloting, as he leapfrogged teammate Andre Ethier.

Kemp is more than 300,000 votes behind Matt Holliday, who currently is third and in line for the final starting spot.

Fans can cast All-Star ballots at mlb.com until 8:59 p.m. on June 30.

Short hops

Jonathan Broxton will start a rehabilitation assignment Tuesday by pitching an inning for triple-A Albuquerque. … Jon Garland could be a couple of days away from starting a throwing program. Garland has been sidelined since June 2 because of shoulder inflammation. ... Triple-A Albuquerque Manager Lorenzo Bundy will coach third base in the absence of Tim Wallach, who is on bereavement leave. Wallach's father died Saturday.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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