Rafael Furcal has second MRI exam
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, who has now been sidelined almost three weeks because of a lower-back strain, underwent a second MRI exam and received a cortisone injection Saturday. If he feels well enough, Furcal will travel to the team's spring-training complex in Glendale, Ariz., on Monday to continue his rehabilitation program.
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Furcal suffered a setback earlier this week when his back tightened up again just as he appeared on the verge of starting a minor league rehabilitation assignment. Despite that, Stan Conte, the Dodgers' director of medical services, said he does expect Furcal to play again sometime this season.
"Yes," Conte said. "I hope so, yes."
Conte said the second MRI showed nothing different from the first, which had been done 2 1/2 weeks earlier. He also said the injection, which also contained a numbing agent, had an almost immediate effect of reducing the discomfort in Furcal's back. Conte also said that back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins Jr., who has been treating Furcal, says this injury isn't related to a more severe back injury Furcal had in 2008 that kept him out for 4 1/2 months that season and required microdiscectomy surgery.
"[But] any time you have a microdiscectomy, the disc is never really the same," Conte said. "It's in the same area, but it isn't the same problem."
Furcal didn't come to the ballpark Saturday, but he is expected Sunday. Conte said Furcal was being sent to Arizona so he can concentrate solely on his rehab while the team goes on a six-game trip to Milwaukee and Colorado.
Weaver to throw Sunday
Reliever Jeff Weaver, who has been on the 15-day DL since Aug. 3 because of left-knee tendinitis, will throw a bullpen Sunday. After that, he is expected to make two minor league rehab starts for advanced Single-A Inland Empire, pitching one inning Tuesday against High Desert and two innings either Friday or Saturday against Bakersfield.
Assuming that goes well, Weaver probably will be activated at the start of the Dodgers' next homestand Aug. 30 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Castro designated for assignment
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Veteran infielder Juan Castro was designated for assignment Saturday, just 10 days after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque, to clear a roster spot for Manny Ramirez, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list.
Torre said if Castro clears waivers, he could rejoin the club for the September roster expansion, but it isn't clear whether the Dodgers will ask him to go back to Albuquerque in the meantime. Castro, reached on his cellphone as he was driving home to Phoenix, said he wasn't sure what would happen.
"They just told me they're putting me on waivers and we won't know anything until next week," he said. "So it just depends on what happens there. The situation wasn't great for me because my wife is still at home with my kids. We'll see what happens. If I don't play in September, I'll just get ready to hopefully get a shot somewhere next year."
Castro is 38 and hit just .194 combined this season for the Phillies, who released him last month, and the Dodgers, who signed him to a minor league deal a few days after that. But he said he definitely wants to play somewhere in 2011.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.