Nomar, Andruw to return on Friday
Injured stars will wear Dodger blue earlier than anticipated
HOUSTON -- There was no word yet on Rafael Furcal's Thursday morning back surgery, but it had an amazing healing effect on disabled teammates Nomar Garciaparra and Andruw Jones.
Manager Joe Torre said that both players would be activated in time for Friday night's game in San Francisco, cutting short their injury rehabilitation assignments -- in Jones' case, by two weeks.
"We're going to go ahead with it," said Torre, who spoke with the two players by phone Wednesday night after learning that Furcal would not be returning any time soon, if at all. "Does Andruw need another five to 10 at-bats? We'll take a chance and do it at the Major League level."
Jones, who had right knee surgery May 27, had insisted all along that he was targeting a return of July 18, when play resumes after the All-Star break. Juan Pierre's left knee injury, suffered Sunday and likely to sideline him four to six weeks, prompted Jones to offer Torre an early return when they spoke on Monday.
Garciaparra, sidelined since April 26 with issues related to a torn left calf muscle, has had a series of possible return dates. Each played only three games at Triple-A Las Vegas this week; Garciaparra was 5-for-8, and Jones was 4-for-8 with a homer.
Clearly, the definitive loss of Furcal accelerated the returns of the veterans. Torre said Garciaparra would start at shortstop Friday and Jones in center field. He reiterated that he would not commit to playing Garciaparra at shortstop every day, particularly in light of Garciaparra's history of injuries in recent years.
Torre said he will continue batting Matt Kemp leadoff and would not consider Garciaparra for the role. The Dodgers will need to make two roster moves to make room for the veterans. Newly arrived outfielder Jason Repko is one likely candidate. The other could come from a group of bench players, including Angel Berroa, Andy LaRoche and Mark Sweeney.
Torre also confirmed that disabled pitcher Brad Penny would not start Saturday as hoped. Penny had a bullpen session Thursday and would probably have either one more simulated game or a Minor League rehab start over the weekend before returning to the rotation late next week from shoulder tendinitis, which has sidelined him for three weeks.
Chan Ho Park will take the Saturday start, with Eric Stults starting Sunday.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.