04/03/07 8:36 PM ET
Notes: Furcal won't be ready Saturday
Shortstop more likely 1-2 weeks away from returning
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Furcal and his sprained ankle haven't batted, fielded ground balls or run. The only baseball activity his left ankle can stand so far is playing catch, and that resumed only recently and cautiously, the shortstop still lacking the strength and confidence to shift full body weight onto his left side.
He suffered the injury Mar. 22 in a collision with Jason Repko, and Frucal seems more like a week or more away than days away.
"He's having a hard time getting from jogging to running," trainer Stan Conte said. "It's a transition, and we expected it. If you push at the wrong time, you can irritate it and cost more days. It was a significant ankle injury, and this is not very much time when you're talking about an ankle. He hasn't had any setbacks."
Furcal's absence was apparent in the season opener, when the Dodgers were held to two hits and Juan Pierre, Furcal's replacement leading off, went 0-for-4.
Manager Grady Little wouldn't officially rule out a Saturday return, but acknowledged that it's not looking good.
"He reached a plateau quickly; now he's leveled off," Little said of Furcal's recovery. "He's not where he needs to be to play."
Little said Furcal would not necessarily require a Minor League rehab assignment to acclimate back to game speed, even though he'll be out longer than two weeks.
"This is Rafael Furcal. He's a little different than most people," he said. "If he's ready to play in a game, he's ready to play in a game for us."
Ethier to the bench: After going 0-for-2 in Monday's opener, Andre Ethier was on the bench for Game 2, as Little started Matt Kemp in right field against Brewers left-handed starter Chris Capuano. Kemp went 2-for-3 with a triple against Capuano last year.
Ethier said the second day of the season was a little early to get discouraged.
"I'm glad to be here," he said. "If it takes matchups and stuff like this in the equation to get us to where we want to be, so be it. I think with me and Kemp, they just want us to get the most experience for now and in the future. They plan on having us here a long time. We'll have some success and we'll take some knocks. I know nothing was given to me and I never expected it to be."
Little wouldn't say who would start in right field in Wednesday's series finale. Ethier was 1-for-6 with a walk and two strikeouts against Jeff Suppan last year, while Kemp did not face him.
Long relief is still relief: Mark Hendrickson, runnerup in the fifth-starter competition, allowed only a solo home run to Bill Hall in three innings of relief Monday.
"I had butterflies coming out," said Hendrickson. "I'm still trying to get used to the bullpen. I made just one bad pitch and I kept the team at bay. I'm here to do what I need to do to help the team. I feel during the spring I've come a long way and I want to just keep it going. I'm trying to find a routine and keep it going."
Penny ready: Brad Penny came through his bullpen session Tuesday with no problems in preparation for his first start Friday night in San Francisco. Penny missed a start two weeks ago, but said he's had no shoulder stiffness since.
Tomko on ice: Fifth-starter Brett Tomko is scheduled to start next Tuesday at home, which will be 12 days after his two-inning relief appearance against the Angels on Saturday night.
Little said he will try to get Tomko some work out of the bullpen in the interim, but the game situation must be appropriate. What would be an appropriate situation?
"Pitching the eighth and ninth innings up 12-1," Little said.
Roster stats: The 25-man roster has seven second-year players (Ethier, Takashi Saito, Russell Martin, Kemp, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton and Wilson Valdez). The average age is 30.88 years. Three players are 22 -- Kemp, Billingsley and Broxton. Two are 39 -- Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez.
Coming up: In Wednesday night's 5:05 p.m. PT series finale, free-agent signees Jason Schmidt of the Dodgers opposes Suppan of the Brewers.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.