Dodgers' Rafael Furcal suffers setback
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal reported no improvement in his lower back on Wednesday, resulting in his rehabilitation program being shut down until further notice. Furcal will be examined by back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins Jr. on Thursday.
"Raffy came in today, and his back pain was a little worse," Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said. "Dr. Watkins Jr. examined him [Tuesday] night and kind of recommended that we shut him down a little bit and see how he does the next couple of days, and then, he did come in a little bit worse. It's not the same issue he had [in 2008], where he had pain down his leg, but obviously, it's a little bit of a setback. He's going to have another test [Thursday], a bone-scan test, to make sure everything is OK with the bones."
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Furcal, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 11 and hasn't played since Aug. 2, admitted that he is growing frustrated by the situation.
"Big-time," he said. "I'm trying to play, trying to get it fine, but I haven't felt good the last couple, three days. I feel bad. The doctor said this isn't like the problem I had before, so that made me feel a little bit better. But I want to play. I want to know what is going on, because I'm working, working and not getting any better."
While continuing to engage in baseball activities during the Dodgers' recent trip to Philadelphia and Atlanta, Furcal was hopeful he could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment this week and be back in the lineup by the end of the week.
"It's disappointing for him, because he was getting excited a few days ago to go on a rehab," Torre said. "He wanted to go as early as last night."
Ramirez set to begin rehab
Left fielder Manny Ramirez, who has been sidelined with either a hamstring injury or a calf injury for all but two days since June 30, was set to begin his minor league rehabilitation assignment on Wednesday night with high Single-A Inland Empire against Lake Elsinore.
Torre said there was no set time frame for how long the rehab will last.
"It's going to have to eventually be him telling us," Torre said. "He has to test it to the point of feeling comfortable going out there, because he is going to have to play [defensively]. We don't have the DH in this league. He is going to have to play and give it every kind of test so we don't run into the same thing we ran into in St. Louis."
Ramirez came back from his hamstring injury in time for the second-half opener on July 15 at St. Louis. But the next night, he left after the top of the first with the calf injury.
Gibbons replaces Kemp
Center fielder Matt Kemp was out of the starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Colorado Rockies, something Torre said was simply the result of wanting to get some playing time for lefty-hitting backup outfielder Jay Gibbons, who played left field while Scott Podsednik moved to center.
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Gibbons is hitting .429 (3-for-7) in his career against Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel, who was scheduled to start the game. Kemp is hitting .222 (2-for-9) against Hammel. Both are small sample sizes, and Gibbons' numbers are made even less meaningful by the fact that he is playing in the big leagues for the first time since 2007.
But with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa slated to start for the Rockies on Thursday night, Torre said he felt more comfortable playing Gibbons against Hammel than against De La Rosa.
"To try to get more consistency out of our offense, I think we need to pay more attention to matchups," Torre said.
Gibbons entered the day hitting .385 (5-for-13) in seven games (two starts) since having his contract purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque on Aug 8. He had struck out just twice in 13 plate appearances. Kemp, a right-handed hitter, began the day hitting .226 in August, and although he had hit two homers and driven in 10 runs, he also had struck out 14 times in 59 plate appearances, an average of once every 4.2 times he steps into the box.
Asked if this could become a straight left-right platoon between Gibbons and Kemp, Torre said he didn't think so.
"I think I would rather do it by feel or if I see something in the matchup that tells me something," Torre said. "Matt is going to play most of the time, as far as I'm concerned."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.