- Tony Jackson, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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PHILADELPHIA -- Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo is ready to take the most significant step yet in his comeback from what is officially being termed an anxiety disorder, but what more specifically is a case of the yips.
Kuo will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment for advanced Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday against Visalia.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers medical staff has attached a rough timetable of 25-30 days from the time shortstop Rafael Furcal suffered a left oblique strain on Friday night for him to be ready to play again in the majors. Furcal underwent an MRI exam on Monday and also received a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection.
Kuo abruptly left the team four weeks ago, a point when the former All-Star setup man had walked an uncharacteristic six batters in 4 2/3 innings for the season. His case of the yips appeared to be milder than most in that it wasn't visible to the naked eye because he wasn't throwing pitches to the backstop -- or, as he did in a previous, more severe bout with it, throwing them completely out of the bullpen.
Still, given that this is at least Kuo's second battle with the problem -- at least one source said it might be his third -- club officials have allowed him to set his own timetable, each step in the process coming only when Kuo says he is ready to take it. In that regard, there is no plan, even a tentative one, for what happens after Kuo's debut for the Quakes.
"He is kind of the one (to decide)," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "This is really not like a strained anything, where you say OK, he'll throw an inning here, take a day off, throw two innings there. This will basically be Kuo saying I'm ready to throw a rehab game. He is on his own timetable as far as what he is doing."
Of the long list of additional disabled Dodgers, reliever Kenley Jansen (right shoulder inflammation) is the one who, in theory at least, is the closest to returning. He will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Chattanooga on Thursday against Carolina, putting him on pace to make a second appearance out of the bullpen for the Lookouts on Saturday at Mississippi and then potentially be activated as soon as he becomes eligible on Monday.
Reliever Jonathan Broxton (right elbow) is getting closer, having thrown what both he and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt thought was an encouraging bullpen session on Monday. He will throw another one on Thursday, although it isn't clear at this point whether he would be ready for a rehab assignment after that.
Mattingly said there still is no timetable for reliever Vicente Padilla, who has overcome the right-elbow issue that landed him on the 15-day disabled list May 19 but still hasn't returned because of a new problem that has come up with a disc in his neck. There also is no timetable for pitcher Jon Garland (right shoulder).
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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