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06/27/08 10:51 PM ET

Dodgers' injured trio to begin rehab

Furcal, Garciaparra, Jones set for stints with Triple-A Las Vegas

LOS ANGELES -- Joe Torre doesn't use injured players as an excuse for losing or count on their return before it happens, but it's hard to ignore that nine of his players are on the disabled list or the possibility that a few key ones might soon be coming off.

Torre said infielders Rafael Furcal (back) and Nomar Garciaparra (left calf) and outfielder Andruw Jones (right knee) will report to Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday to begin Minor League rehabilitation assignments. Furcal and Garciaparra could be activated as early as next weekend, while Jones, who had knee surgery May 27, has targeted the resumption of play after the break for his return.

"I keep my fingers crossed," said Torre, "but I'm not counting the days."

Torre also said disabled starters Brad Penny and Hiroki Kuroda are tentatively scheduled to throw Saturday, Kuroda possibly to a hitter or two, although he's been slowed lately by a stiff neck unrelated to the sore right shoulder that put him on the disabled list. Penny threw on flat ground Friday.

Jason Schmidt, a longer-term project, restarts his assignment for Las Vegas Saturday night after a four-week break. He's now into the second year of his recovery from career-threatening right shoulder surgery.

Garciaparra (55 games), Furcal (46 games) and Jones (31) have missed a combined 132 games with their current injuries, crippling an offense that was suspect even before they were sidelined. The club has really hit the skids without Furcal, who was batting .366 leading off. Since his injury, the Dodgers are 18-28.

"The frustrating part right now is that we're getting great pitching and coming up empty," said Torre.

Furcal was thrilled that he felt no discomfort Friday after a strenuous workout on Thursday.

Jones said that his leg feels stronger now than it has all season and admitted the knee has bothered him for years, but the pain intensified during Spring Training and never let up until he had the cartilage repaired.

"I thought I could play through it," Jones said. "You tell yourself you can, and sometimes you can for the whole year. But it really bothered me bad. I had no balance with my back leg and then I got into some really bad habits with my swing. Now I'm strong again. I want to prove to myself I can still do what I've always been doing and the fans want to see me do what they've heard I can do."

Meanwhile, an MRI revealed no structural damage to the right elbow of disabled reliever Scott Proctor, who has tendinitis and will be shut down for 10 days before he starts tossing.

And the injury bug even hit the coaching staff. Bullpen coach Ken Howell left the club temporarily with an undisclosed illness. Jim Slaton, pitching coach for Las Vegas, was called up to fill in until Howell's return, which is expected for the next homestand.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.