LOS ANGELES -- Injured Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal starts a Minor League rehab assignment with Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday after missing three weeks with a strained oblique, but manager Don Mattingly Saturday backed off earlier comments that Furcal might be moved to second base.Mattingly has been starting rookie Dee Gordon in Furcal's place at shortstop and leadoff hitter, and Mattingly had said there was talk about keeping Gordon in place and sliding Furcal over the second base when he returns. But Gordon has been struggling offensively and Mattingly sounded more hesitant to move Furcal to second base Saturday.
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"You caught me off-guard yesterday and we really hadn't talked that much about it," Mattingly told reporters. "I talked to Fukey about it and he's willing to do it, but I don't know if it's the best thing for him. He just wants to win, but there's hesitation for me, even though he's willing to do whatever you ask, he doesn't seem to want to do it. I don't know if it's the right time. We'll see."In truth, Furcal had enough trouble when he returned from a six-week absence with a broken thumb (1-for-22), his rehab session cut short because Juan Uribe was injured. Combining returning from injury with learning a new position is asking a lot from Furcal, who was hitting only .212 when he went down with the oblique. "He wants to feel like his timing is right when he comes back, so we'll give him the time he needs to rehab," Mattingly said when asked if there was a timetable for Furcal's return. Meanwhile, Gordon's struggles continued with an 0-for-5 Friday night, making him 1-for-18 in a five-game stretch that has seen his average collapse from .326 to .246. Of greater concern for a leadoff hitter, he has 14 strikeouts and two walks. Throughout his Minor League career, Gordon's strikeout to walk ratio was generally 2-to-1. "That tells you they're throwing strikes and they're going to force him to swing the bat," said Mattingly. "He's a burner and they're not going to walk him. They're going to attack. I could see that being out of whack and I also see it normalizing if he places the ball in play, bunts and gets more experience and laying off the borderline ball up. If he can get deeper into the count, that puts the pressure on the pitcher. "Dee definitely has to get on base as the leadoff guy. He really hasn't bunted as much as we'd like to see. He's got to play his game. You're starting to see him roll over and hit grounders to second. You want to see him driving balls into the hole at third and short. When he's out in front like this, he's kind of cheating. He has to make adjustments."
Kemp tossed for arguing balls and strikes
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers cleanup hitter Matt Kemp was ejected from Saturday's game with the Angels by plate umpire Chris Conway for arguing a called third strike in the fifth inning of the Dodgers' 6-1 loss.Kemp took a Tyler Chatwood 1-2 pitch and was rung up by Conway, a Minor League callup. Kemp didn't argue at the plate, but was seen on camera yelling something toward the umpire from the dugout and Conway ejected him. Kemp came running out of the dugout toward the plate, followed closely by manager Don Mattingly. Kemp was restrained and Mattingly took up the argument. Kemp -- with 21 homers and 60 RBIs -- was the only player in the Dodgers' lineup with more than seven homers or 37 RBIs. "People come to see Matt play, and Matt's not cussing him," said Mattingly. "We get frustrated, and I'm sure [umpires] do, too. To me, if it's out of hand, I understand it. He wasn't out of hand there. He's saying, 'Get the ball in the strike zone.' "[Conroy] is a long way away. He didn't have to turn over there. You can't let a guy abuse you, but Matt wasn't abusive. He was not on the step, not demonstrative, not showing him up. It never got to the point where [Conroy] looked over and said, 'That's enough.' Just, he was gone." Crew chief Tom Hallion, speaking on behalf of Conway, offered a slightly different take on the exchange, insisting that Kemp was warned twice. Hallion said Kemp complained briefly about the first pitch of the at-bat and once he got to the dugout, ignored two warnings from Conway to "knock it off." "As soon as he gets to the dugout, he yells out, 'Keep it on the plate -- let's go,'" Hallion said. "Chris went over and said, 'That's it,' and he had the chance to stop, but he didn't. Donnie's complaint was to keep him in the game. Donnie could have helped out by turning to Matt and telling him to knock it off and let him do the arguing. Donnie didn't do anything. He didn't move. He could have kept him in the game with a little help. "If [Conway] had ejected him after the first thing he said, we would have discussed that. But I can't back him into a corner and tell him he has to give four or five warnings. Two is enough to know you better stop there." After the game, a contrite Kemp wouldn't continue the debate. "It's a little frustrating, but in that situation I let my team down today," said Kemp. "I let my emotions get the best of me and I just got ejected from the game. I can't do that. I gotta be in there fighting with my team." Kemp was the fourth (and final) Dodgers batter called out on strikes. It was his second ejection of the season.
Thames may go on DL on Sunday
LOS ANGELES -- Marcus Thames is likely to go on the disabled list on Sunday because of a strained left calf muscle, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly indicated after Saturday's 6-1 loss to the Angels.
"It's just hard in this league to be a guy short," Mattingly said. "He felt good enough to [pinch-hit], but with a ground ball, it'll be a double play. At this point, there's not any way he can play the field."
Thames said he felt the injury "on the second or third step" out of the box on a double Friday.
"It's not as bad as I thought it would be," he said.
Thames, signed to handle the bulk of the playing time in left field, had been hampered by a quad strain since Spring Training that ultimately put him on the disabled list from May 3 to June 6. He was 3-for-6 in his last three games and was just starting to get his timing back.
"I'm not too happy right now," he said. "The frustrating part is, I'm finally getting a chance to get in a couple days in a row, and now something else. I just hope it's not bad."
The Dodgers have three outfielders on their 40-man roster at Triple-A Albuquerque from which they can promote a replacement: Jerry Sands, Trayvon Robinson and Jamie Hoffmann. Of the three, only Hoffmann didn't play Saturday, a possible indication that he would be Thames' replacement. Hoffmann is the oldest and most experienced of the trio.
Sands apparently was still struggling with some of the mechanical bad habits that led to his demotion two weeks ago. The latest word on Robinson was that he was making continued progress, but management would prefer to keep him in the Minors through August, if possible.
"Jerry's OK, and Trayvon's been hot lately," said Mattingly. "We feel [Trayvon's] starting to make strides and adjustments. We have to make sure we don't bring guys too fast. We've had to bring guys faster than we've wanted to this year. We've talked about a number of guys [to promote]. I hate to say at this point."
Also at Triple-A is Jay Gibbons, but he no longer is on the 40-man roster.
Dodgers eye Friday return for Broxton
LOS ANGELES -- Injured Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton will resume his Minor League rehab assignment on Sunday and Monday for Class A Rancho Cucamonga.Manager Don Mattingly said if Broxton comes out of those back-to-back appearances in good shape, he could be activated by Friday, when the Dodgers open an Interleague Series in Anaheim against the Angels. Broxton made two rehab appearances for Triple-A Albuquerque earlier this week, allowing one run in two innings.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.