06/23/10 10:07 PM ET
Haeger likely facing make-or-break start
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
"Now that he's healthy, it's probably best, in all fairness to him, to make a decision," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who gives Haeger a start Thursday night against the Angels. "He's going to have to show us something. Something we have to be comfortable with. Tomorrow's his shot. We'll go from there."
It will be Haeger's sixth start of the season, the others coming as the fifth starter out of Spring Training, but first since he went on the disabled list May 9 with the first of what was officially two foot injuries.
Unofficially, Haeger spent the time healing from bruised confidence -- and an 0-4 record with an 8.53 ERA.
"I'm finally feeling comfortable. I haven't been comfortable for almost the whole season," Haeger said. "I felt fine in the Florida start, but after the San Francisco game, I just looked at it real closely and realized that when you throw the knuckleball, everything is under the microscope. I could have done a better job bouncing back from a bad game. That's my fault.
"I didn't throw the baseball well and I wasn't there confidence-wise. You can't pitch in the big leagues if you're not confident in yourself. Now it's back. I feel no pain in my foot and I'm throwing strikes more. In the bullpen [Tuesday] I threw a lot of strikes. When I do that, I know I can get the job done."
Haeger has had two DL stints, interrupted long enough for an ineffective relief appearance June 5. All told he's had seven rehab starts, going 3-4 with a 4.83 ERA, but he's coming off his best one, six scoreless innings for Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday.
He'll be pitching on three days' rest, but Torre discounted the effects of that because the knuckleball does not strain the arm. Haeger is out of options, so he cannot be sent down to the Minor Leagues without the chance of another club claiming him.
Torre to decide future later in season
ANAHEIM -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who suspended talks for a contract extension in the spring, said Wednesday he won't decide his future until later in the season.
"I'm not close. I'll wait toward the end," said Torre, in the third and final year of a $13 million contract. "There are other things I want to do. I'm comfortable that the Dodgers left it to me, and they seem to be agreeable if I want to do it again.
"I'm really not thinking about it. Toward the end of the year, we'll see if I still want to go through another full year of it. I have to admit, there are days I leave the house wishing I could go to my daughter's softball practice."
That's a different tone than Torre had during the offseason, when he confirmed that he and the club were in talks to extend the contract for one more season of managing. At the Winter Meetings in December, general manager Ned Colletti said those talks had expanded to include a significant front-office advisory role. When Spring Training opened, Torre reiterated his interest in managing in 2011. He turns 70 next month.
"When I first came aboard, they offered two years and instead I asked for a third year [not wanting to duplicate the lame-duck status he had in New York]," Torre said in the spring. "Now I'm looking at a fourth. As long as it's still interesting, exciting. It was a great decision on my part to continue doing this. It's been fun. At this point in time, yeah, I want another year."
The issue of his future was raised two days before he leads the Dodgers against his former team, the New York Yankees, in Interleague Play at Dodger Stadium.
When Torre broke off talks in March, he said one reason was uncertainty over the workload expected after he stopped managing. He denied then, as well as Wednesday, that ownership uncertainty was a factor.
"If I want to manage, I'll continue to manage," he said. "If I decide I don't want to do it anymore, I can't see the ownership situation will change my mind.
"If I decide not to do it again, I'm sure there will be a time when I say, let's go again. When I make the decision, I'm sure I'll give it a pretty good run. You can't make a decision out of emotion. You weigh the pluses and minuses and take a shot."
Torre all but ruled out managing anywhere else and starting over. He has managed the Dodgers to consecutive National League West titles and appearances in the NL Championship Series, the first time for the club since 1977-78. The Dodgers led the league with 95 wins in 2009, the most for the franchise since 1985. His Dodgers record is 217-177. His 14 consecutive playoff appearances tied Bobby Cox for the all-time managerial record.
Whenever Torre steps down, the heir apparent is current hitting coach and Torre protégé Don Mattingly, who spoke with Cleveland about its managerial vacancy over the winter, then declined a chance to interview with the Washington Nationals for their vacant manager job.
Subdued Furcal returns to Dodgers' lineup
ANAHEIM -- A subdued Rafael Furcal returned to the lineup Tuesday, still shaken from the Sunday death of his father, but grateful that the Dodgers allowed him to travel to the Dominican Republic for a final goodbye.
Furcal's father was hospitalized a month ago after being kicked in the chest by a horse on the family farm. It was only after Furcal sent his wife to check on his father's progress 10 days ago that he learned his father probably would not survive the internal injuries to vital organs and infections that had set in.
"My mother and brother didn't tell me how bad it was, they didn't want to tell me while I was playing," said Furcal. "But the doctors explained to my wife that if I wanted to see him alive, I had to get there. Thank God to the Dodgers for letting me go for the last three days of his life.
"When I got there, he looked so bad. But he saw me and was so happy, he tried to get up, but couldn't because of the surgery. He was waiting for me, I think."
Three days after that visit, Furcal's father died of pneumonia and complications from the injuries. That was early Sunday morning. He was buried that afternoon and Furcal pulled out his cellphone to show a photo of his father in an open casket.
"He was a pretty good baseball player, they told me," said Furcal. "He always told me and my brother, we could play baseball, but we had to go to school first. He was 79. He was never sick, ever.
"But when I saw him, he was so skinny. I cried when I saw him, I hugged him. He told me not to cry. He said life is like that. He told me when I was a kid, the only time you see me sick is when I'm going to die. He said I gave him everything he needed, I made him happy, supporting everybody and taking care of everybody. He told me not to cry, to keep going because life is like that."
Furcal was activated off the bereavement list Wednesday and Chin-lung Hu was optioned back to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Broxton's recent inactivity no concern for LA
ANAHEIM -- Jonathan Broxton, who seemed to be a closer headed to his second All-Star selection when the Dodgers were rolling in May, has pitched to one batter in the past nine days.
And that one batter, Boston's Dustin Pedroia, hit a walk-off single as the Red Sox beat the Dodgers on Saturday.
"I'm not really concerned about him," manager Joe Torre said about Broxton's inactivity. "It's an indication of what our record's been. He throws enough."
Broxton is 3-0 with 16 saves and a 0.92 ERA. He has 42 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.