Notes: Izturis has timetable for return

Notes: Izturis has timetable for return

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Cesar Izturis now has a tentative timetable to return to game action.

What position he plays when that happens is anybody's guess, but Izturis said he'll worry about that later.

In the meantime, he said he will travel west with the club next week and have an MRI taken on his reconstructed right elbow around Opening Day. If doctors are satisfied his transplanted ligament is sound, he expects to begin a three-week Minor League rehabilitation assignment in late April and, barring any setbacks, be activated in mid-May.

He said his first few games would be at second base, then he would extend his throws and move to shortstop. Dr. Frank Jobe has recommended that Izturis play second base when he returns because a shorter throw would put less stress on his elbow. Izturis said he wants to remain at shortstop, where he won a Gold Glove Award two seasons ago.

"I'm definitely excited," said Izturis, who had Tommy John surgery in September and originally was expected back around the All-Star break.

"Yesterday I took ground balls from shortstop and made about five backhand plays and threw from the hole. No problem, no pain."

With the signing of Rafael Furcal to play shortstop, the Dodgers will have an infield surplus when Izturis returns. Furcal expects to remain at his position. There is speculation Izturis might be traded or asked to play a utility role.

"I don't know what's going to happen," he said. "It's in [management's] hands to make the decision. I just want to be ready to play my position. After they decide, we'll make the adjustments."

Gagne vs. Lo Duca: Forget the MRIs. Former Dodger Paul Lo Duca thinks Eric Gagne is recovered from elbow surgery.

"To me, he looked pretty good," said Lo Duca, Gagne's catcher as a Dodger and third strikeout victim in the seventh inning on Wednesday night.

"You can tell. I don't know how he feels inside, but from what I saw, he looked healthy. Maybe his velocity hasn't been up there, but we're getting to the point of Spring Training where you want to test to see if you can reach back and get it. He did. That pitch had good life."

Gagne, who threw a 94 mph fastball past Lo Duca, also allowed a broken-bat single and a four-pitch walk to former Dodger Jose Valentin in a 21-pitch inning. He said he started Lo Duca with a slider, "because he said I didn't have a good slider. He didn't swing at it -- scared."

Manager Grady Little said he was impressed with starter Brett Tomko, who allowed one unearned run in six innings (1.35 ERA on the spring); Yhency Brazoban, who pitched one scoreless inning; and Hong-Chih Kuo, who took the ninth-inning loss by allowing an unearned run but his elbow passed the back-to-back games test.

Ross escapes: Cody Ross suffered a contusion above the left wrist when hit by an Aaron Heilman pitch Wednesday night. Precautionary X-rays were negative. If the injury is serious enough to require disabling Ross, it would buy the Dodgers some time in deciding what to do with the outfielder, who is out of options and having an impressive spring.

Navarro's recovery: Although Dioner Navarro began squatting Wednesday and said his strained hamstring continues to improve, Little described Navarro's chances to be ready for Opening Day "a long shot" and said it would be more likely he opens the season on the disabled list.

If that happens, Navarro would play some games on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Las Vegas before reporting to the Dodgers and Russell Martin would make the club out of Double-A. In that scenario, veteran Sandy Alomar Jr. most likely would get the start because of his experience, rather than asking Martin to make his Major League debut in the chaotic atmosphere of Opening Day.

Navarro sounded upbeat.

"They're happy, I'm happy," he said. "I'm on the right pace. I'm running about 60 to 70 percent. There's still plenty of time. I know they want the best for me and I'll do whatever they want me to do."

Werth swinging: Jayson Werth graduated from waving a fungo to air swings with a real bat.

"We're trying to break up scar tissue and getting aggressive with it," said Werth. "At this point, the [November] surgery is healed. Now it's just getting it mobilized and stronger, but mobilizing causes pain. I'm just working through it."

Repko's reaction: Jason Repko low-keyed the news that Little pretty much confirmed he had the club made as an extra outfielder.

"It doesn't change how I look at it. Regardless if I have the club made or not, it's not just making the team, it's staying in the big leagues," said Repko, who seized a job when Werth was injured last spring. "I want to be here the rest of my career."

Little has praised Repko's all-around tools.

"When you have new faces, you have to re-prove yourself," said Repko, referring to the new faces of Little and general manager Ned Colletti. "I knew that coming to Spring Training."

Biting pain: Olmedo Saenz had an impacted wisdom tooth extracted Wednesday morning, then tried to work out, but cut short his day because of pain.

"The last two days it was stupid pain, unbearable," he said. "I had it done this morning and tried to hit, but that didn't work."

Koufax Klinic: Brad Penny worked on his curveball in a bullpen session attended by Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, who also spoke at length with D.J. Houlton and Jonathan Broxton about curveball mechanics. Aaron Sele was an interested observer.

Added broadcasts: Thursday and Friday's Dodgers games will be broadcast on, and locally in Vero Beach on WTTB 1440 AM. Brian Petrotta, the voice of the Vero Beach Dodgers of the Florida State League, will call the action.

Coming up: Jae Seo makes his Dodgers debut Thursday against St. Louis. Also scheduled to pitch are Houlton and Broxton. Jeff Suppan, Braden Looper, Josh Hancock, Brian Falkenborg and Matt Smith are scheduled for the Cardinals.

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