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08/22/11 8:04 PM ET

Injured Dodgers showing improvement

ST. LOUIS -- Ted Lilly's stiff neck improved Monday and manager Don Mattingly said the left-hander is still scheduled to make his next start Friday night against the Rockies.

Lilly came out of Saturday night's start in Colorado with a neck that Mattingly said had more to do with the way he slept on it than an actual injury. Lilly is likely to throw a bullpen session Tuesday.

Casey Blake and Dee Gordon took the next step in their recoveries from neck and shoulder injuries, respectively, by taking live batting practice Monday.

If Blake's neck continues to show improvement, he said he could play as early as Tuesday night.

Gordon appeared tentative taking his swings. He is scheduled to take batting practice with the club Tuesday and Wednesday. If the club feels he's ready, he would go out for at least two games on a Minor League rehab assignment before being activated.

Reliever Kenley Jansen, on the disabled list with an irregular heartbeat, came out of his two-strikeout rehab inning for Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday night with no problems and is scheduled for another outing Tuesday night. He could be activated for Friday night's game.

Mattingly splits Ethier, Kemp in lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Determined to keep Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp as his Nos. 3 and 4 hitters since the season started, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly finally relented Monday and shook things up.

Mattingly dropped Ethier to fifth, moved Kemp up to third and elevated Juan Rivera to the cleanup spot for the series opener against the Cardinals.

"I don't know why today," Mattingly said. "I just want to give us a jump start a little bit. We'll try to give Matt another at-bat a day and take a little pressure off 'Dre, a change of scenery. He's been struggling."

Ethier is 2-for-20 on the first seven games of this trip, his average down to .290, to go along with reduced power numbers of 10 home runs and 51 RBIs.

There were more changes. James Loney, who had four hits Sunday, was moved up to second in the order, Rod Barajas returned to the lineup after missing two games with a groin strain and Eugenio Velez, still 0-for-2011, started at second base as Justin Sellers sat.

"We're going California surfing with James, riding the wave," said Mattingly. "I don't envision James in the 2-hole all the time, but tonight he's the right guy."

Mattingly said the consistent play of Rivera, who is hitting .327 with 17 RBIs in 31 games with the Dodgers, makes such shuffling a little easier to pull off.

"Obviously it helps having a guy there to drive in runs," Mattingly said. "Andre is battling himself and I want to relieve a little of that.

"I really wanted to keep [Ethier and Kemp] 3-4 all year and be consistent with them. 'Dre can't have better protection than Matty. The main thing is to give Matt another at-bat and take the pressure off 'Dre and have a little different feel in the lineup."

Furcal says leaving Dodgers was 'tough'

ST. LOUIS -- Rafael Furcal, a taped right thumb evidence of his latest injury, still seems to be in greater pain over his Dodgers departure last month.

He was traded before the Deadline to stabilize the Cardinals infield, the Dodgers receiving in return Minor League outfielder Alex Castellanos, who is hitting .368 with Double-A Chattanooga and was just named Southern League Hitter of the Week for driving in 11 runs with nine extra-base hits.

Furcal -- who had trade-veto rights as a 10-year veteran with at least five years on his current club -- wrestled with the decision of leaving a city in which he'd grown comfortable.

But he said general manager Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly laid out the likely scenario for the rest of the season -- Furcal was an upcoming free agent, the Dodgers needed to see if top prospect Dee Gordon was ready to replace him, and Furcal was likely to be sitting in September instead of showing other clubs that he was healthy enough to deserve a contract for 2012 and beyond.

"Some people think I decided to go, to leave the team, but that wasn't the situation," said Furcal. "You never know, I might come back. The fans there treated me so good. I got hurt and I was disappointed I couldn't play for them. This was a tough decision for me. But I'm a professional. It was tough for me, emotional. I played there 5 1/2 years, I still have a home there. It was a great experience there."

Furcal's game hasn't changed much from what he had accomplished this year with the Dodgers. His defense is still solid and sometimes spectacular, but he's not getting on base at the clip that made him one of the more valuable two-way shortstops in the game before the injuries multiplied.

On the other hand, he doesn't mind being in a lineup with Albert Pujols.

"An unbelievable player," he said.

Furcal said his thumb is healing from a freak injury he suffered Saturday during batting practice at Wrigley Field, where a wooden board split when he stepped on it and he broke his fall bracing with his right hand, twisting the thumb. He said he can now hold a bat and throw a ball and hoped to be back in the lineup Tuesday night.

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