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04/21/07 10:34 PM ET

Notes: Little sure Furcal will rebound

Shortstop still not in normal form since returning from injury

LOS ANGELES -- There is no question that Rafael Furcal is struggling at the plate, but Dodgers manager Grady Little believes his shortstop is making strides to get into regular-season form.

Furcal played in only a handful of Spring Training games before colliding with Jason Repko as the two went after a pop fly in shallow center field. Furcal suffered a sprained ankle and missed the rest of Spring Training and the first nine games of the season.

"He had a very good day his first game back, but reality has set in," Little said. "It's going to take him awhile to get back into the flow of the game and into the flow of the season."

Furcal ignited the Dodgers in his first game back, going 2-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs against the Padres. He also made a great diving stop on a ground ball hit up the middle by Padres pitcher David Wells.

Since that game though, Furcal has disappeared at the plate, and most importantly for the Dodgers, he has not been getting on base the way he did last season.

Furcal is 4-for-28 with three walks and four strikeouts since going 2-for-5 in his season debut. But despite the slow start, Little is still confident that his shortstop and leadoff batter will get in a groove sooner rather than later.

"His at-bats have been good," Little said. "He's seeing a lot of pitches and taking a base on balls when he's able to and not chasing bad pitches, but he's just not at a point right now where he's getting a lot of hits."

Furcal, who notched a career-high 196 hits and a team-best 113 runs last season, is an important component in the offense, and a guy the Dodgers expect a lot from this season.

Kuo throws: Injured left-handed pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo threw a simulated game Saturday afternoon and reported no pain in his throwing shoulder.

Kuo, recovering from a shoulder strain, threw 45 pitches and said he felt fine, and expects to throw another simulated game in a few days.

"It felt fine," Kuo said. "I was throwing at 100 percent and I didn't feel any soreness, but my breaking ball was a little wild."

Kemp day-to-day: Matt Kemp returned to Los Angeles on Friday after feeling a twinge in his injured shoulder while playing for Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Kemp said he got worried when he felt pain after making a throw in the first inning and immediately contacted the Dodgers, who flew him in to see trainer Stan Conte.

"It's a little better, but I just need time," Kemp said. "There is a possibility that I can return in the next couple of days, but right now I'm just taking it day-to-day."

Rough outing: Reliever Yhency Brazoban, who is recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, struggled with his command in his start Friday night for the Dodgers' Class A affiliate.

Brazoban threw 39 pitches in 1 2/3 innings before being removed, allowing one run on two hits and a walk, with one strikeout. Little said Brazoban threw the ball well but couldn't hit his spots. He's expected to pitch again on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Coming up: Brett Tomko (0-0, 1.64 ERA) will make his third start of the season Sunday afternoon at 1:10 PT against Pirates lefty Tom Gorzelanny (2-0, 1.33).

Jayson Addcox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.