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Dodgers' Rafael Furcal says he's recovered from off-season illness

Furcal, the Dodgers' starting shortstop, says he ate contaminated meat in his native Dominican Republic. He says he had to take medication that caused bloating, but he's ready for opening day.

March 24, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Offseason illness hasn't derailed Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal's plans to be in the lineup on opening day.
Offseason illness hasn't derailed Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal's… (Jake Roth / U.S. Presswire )

Rafael Furcal tapped his bare stomach and declared he was ready for opening day.

His midsection was protruding but didn't look nearly as large as it did when the Dodgers started full-squad workouts five weeks ago.

Asked how much weight he had lost, Furcal said, "Five pounds."

Only five?

The All-Star shortstop explained that what looked like fat wasn't fat. His expanded waistline was the result of bloating, a side effect of medication he took in the winter.

Reporting from Phoenix — Furcal said he contracted an illness in January by eating contaminated meat in his native Dominican Republic.

"I had some bacteria in my stomach," Furcal said. "I couldn't digest food."

L.A. Times Dodgers blog

Furcal continued to work out, albeit with some difficulty.

"My body didn't feel well," he said.

Because of the remedy he took, he looked soft in the belly when reporting to spring training. But he said he weighed in at 193 pounds for his entrance physical, which is around where he had been at the start of previous camps.

Furcal said he is around his normal playing weight these days.

"I feel better," he said. "I'm moving better now. I'm closer to my normal weight. I like being 185, 188."

Furcal has a lot at stake this season. If he makes 600 plate appearances, his $12-million team option for 2012 becomes guaranteed.

Furcal, who is batting .250 this spring, said he has felt better at the plate in the last week or so.

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"When you don't get many at-bats, you don't get into a rhythm," Furcal said. "But we're in the final stretch of the spring now. I'm playing seven or eight innings, I see more pitches, I get four at-bats. That makes you feel more comfortable."

Navarro sidelined

Backup catcher Dioner Navarro had an MRI exam after feeling discomfort in his right side during batting practice. Test results will be available Friday.

"I can't tell you how bad it is," Navarro said. "It doesn't seem to be that bad, but we'll see."

Navarro said he took only one swing.

"As soon as I felt it, I shut it down," he said.

Navarro, who was supposed to start for the Dodgers in their 7-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, was scratched from the lineup.

The Dodgers' fifth starter, Jon Garland, is sidelined with a strained side muscle and expected to start the season on the disabled list.

If Navarro is subjected to the same fate, he could be replaced on the opening day roster by hot-hitting Hector Gimenez.

The 28-year-old Gimenez's only major league stint was in 2006, when he appeared in two games for the Houston Astros.

But Gimenez is batting .289 this spring with three home runs and seven runs batted in. Because the Dodgers felt they were set at catcher, they have had Gimenez log innings at first base and left field. Gimenez is out of options, meaning they cannot send him to the minor leagues without risking losing him to another team.

Padilla moving forward

Vicente Padilla threw off a mound for the third time and his progress has Manager Don Mattingly convinced that he won't be on the disabled list for long.

"If everything progresses, I definitely think we're looking at April," Mattingly said.

Padilla had arm surgery Feb. 24.

Short hops

Casey Blake, who has been sidelined because of swelling in the middle of his spine, participated in a full workout. Mattingly said Blake could play in a minor league game as early as Monday.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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