Dodgers' Furcal to start rehab stint
LOS ANGELES -- As expected, Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal will begin his minor league rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday night. Furcal is expected to play at least two games with the Isotopes, but there is a strong chance he could be activated and in the Dodgers' lineup on Friday night against the San Francisco Giants.
"He was really upbeat after practicing (Tuesday)," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "He'll be there the next couple of days, and we'll see what we have for the weekend."
Furcal has been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 11 with a lower-back strain. He had hoped to begin his rehab two weeks ago, but suffered a setback after flying back from the team's East Coast trip. Last week, when the Dodgers hit the road again, Furcal went to the team's spring-training complex in Glendale, Ariz., to continue his rehab and reported feeling much better upon his return.
Ups and downs
The Dodgers won't make their first September callups until Friday. Catcher A.J. Ellis would have been recalled on Wednesday, the first day for the September roster expansion, but the mandatory 10 days hadn't passed since he was optioned on Aug. 22, and the Dodgers are off on Thursday. The club also plans to recall an infielder -- probably Chin-lung Hu, but possibly Ivan DeJesus -- on Friday.
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The Dodgers also had planned to purchase the contract of veteran infielder Juan Castro from Albuquerque on Wednesday. But Castro, who has been attending to a family medical issue, hadn't yet reported to Albuquerque after accepting an outright assignment there last week -- the Dodgers had designated him for assignment on Aug. 21 -- so his mandatory 10 days technically hadn't started yet, meaning he wasn't eligible for a callup.
The Dodgers are expected to add additional players at various points this month, but with Albuquerque in the hunt for a Pacific Coast League playoff berth, many of those callups probably won't come until the Isotopes' season is finished.
Padilla to start Monday
Torre said he remains optimistic that Vicente Padilla will be able to come off the DL and make his scheduled start on Monday night at San Diego. Padilla was hit in the right forearm by a line drive during his minor league rehab start for advanced Single-A Inland Empire on Monday night, but continued pitching for another inning.
Padilla has been on the 15-day DL since Aug. 20 with a bulging disc in his neck.
"He gave me a pretty good indication that he felt all right," Torre said.
Torre said if Padilla can't go, rookie Carlos Monasterios will again start in his place.
It's hot back there
Despite the quick turnaround from Tuesday's night game to Wednesday's noon start, Rod Barajas started behind the plate for the third consecutive game, something Torre attributed to the off-day Thursday and the fact Barajas was hitting .273 with a home run against Phillies starter Roy Oswalt.
"Brad Ausmus told me that Oswalt has never gotten him out, which is true," Torre said. "But that's because he has never faced him."
Ausmus and Oswalt were teammates for several years with the Houston Astros.
The Dodgers have assigned seven of their top prospects to the prestigious Arizona Fall League. They are pitchers Javy Guerra, Jon Link and Justin Miller (the 2007 sixth-round draft pick, not the 33-year-old right-hander who spent some time with the major league club earlier this season); catcher Matt Wallach; infielders DeJesus and Jerry Sands; and outfielder Trayvon Robinson. All seven will play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, a team that will be managed by Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly.
The AFL season begins on Oct. 12 and concludes with a championship game on Nov. 20.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com