Dodgers work to get Furcal's back stronger
Veteran Castro joins club from Triple-A to replace shortstop
PHILADELPHIA -- With Rafael Furcal's back, the Dodgers never know.
Before Tuesday night's game, they thought the shortstop was finally healthy enough to play after missing a week with lower back soreness. By the end of the night, he was on the disabled list for the second time this year and the fourth time in his five seasons with the club.
Furcal said he can throw without discomfort, but not field grounders or swing the bat, and he hasn't even tried running. Because of retroactive dating, Furcal could return from the 15-day DL as early as Aug. 18.
Juan Castro, originally signed by the Dodgers 19 years ago, had his contract purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque for his third stint with the club. The 38-year-old Castro arrived during batting practice Wednesday, carrying a Phillies equipment bag, having been released by the Dodgers' current opponent July 17.
"This is not any kind of setback," manager Joe Torre said of Furcal. "He's OK, but to the point of probably it's not safe to send him out to play nine innings. He's got to play at 100 percent. His game is quickness, the ability to cover ground. His health is more important than some guy swinging the bat and running hard, but not fast."
Trainer Stan Conte said the area that bothers Furcal is the same area that was operated on in 2008 for a herniated disk, but an MRI revealed no further disk problem.
"But everything's connected," Conte said. "He is better, just not better enough. We run the risk of putting him out there and then we lose the retro days. If we get him stronger now, it's more likely he comes back without a problem."
Torre sticks with Gibbons over Kemp to start
PHILADELPHIA -- Former Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson will look at Joe Torre's lineup for the first two games against the Phillies and know exactly what center fielder Matt Kemp is going through.
Torre, who's been known to ride the hot hand, had Kemp on the bench for the second consecutive game Wednesday night and Jay Gibbons in the lineup again after Gibbons went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs Tuesday night in his first Major League start in three years. The Dodgers scored 15 runs -- two driven in by Kemp's pinch-single.
"We had a good result last night and we're just going to see if we can try to ride it as much as we can," Torre said. "Right now, it's all about winning games. To have the game he had last night, we'll ride that as far as we can. We won the game. I'm in that place right now."
A year ago, even though Hudson was an All-Star, Torre replaced him with Ronnie Belliard after his acquisition, and he took the job and never gave it up. Torre said this situation is the same for now, but stopped short of saying Kemp could remain on the bench.
"I'm not going down that road now," he said. "We need everybody. Matty knocked in two runs Tuesday night. It's just a day at a time."
Torre said that after Tuesday night's win, he told Kemp he would not be starting Wednesday night.
"He shrugged his shoulders and said, 'OK,'" Torre said.
Although Kemp leads the club in runs scored and is tied for the team lead in home runs, he's hitting .260 and Sunday he struck out four times. Earlier this season, Kemp was briefly benched after talking back to bench coach Bob Schaefer in the dugout.
"He's got enormous talent and he's certainly been a big part of the team and we're still looking for him to be a big part," said Torre. "You play 162 games and you've got to get help from other people. We put a lot of pressure on the likes of [Andre] Ethier, [Russell] Martin and Matty with Manny [Ramirez] on the DL three times. It's nice to have other people contributing."
With Gibbons playing left field, Scott Podsednik started in center.
Sherrill passes on swinging in first at-bat
PHILADELPHIA -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre let George Sherrill come to bat in the ninth inning Tuesday night and he walked on four pitches, but it's inaccurate to say Sherrill was batting.
"I wasn't going to swing," said Sherrill, who was making his first plate appearance in seven Major League seasons.
Then why bother even taking a bat?
"Just in case," he said. "It's against the rules not to take a bat up there. Even Eddie Gaedel [a midget who walked on four pitches in a 1951 game] took a bat up there."
Sherrill said he doesn't take any batting practice since suffering a rib-cage twinge in Colorado.
So, how did it feel?
"Awkward," he said. "I had one at-bat in college. Fouled one off, called out on strikes, but it was a ball. It's been since high school since I hit."
And what did Phillies reliever J.C. Romero think about walking the opposing pitcher on four pitches?
"That was embarrassing," Romero said. "I don't remember the last time I was that embarrassed."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.