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Repko shut down but still optimistic

Repko shut down but still optimistic for 2008

LOS ANGELES -- After missing the entire 2007 season with hamstring surgery, Dodgers outfielder Jason Repko was shut down after one week of instructional league play when an old ankle injury flared up.

Repko tore the hamstring muscle off the bone during a Spring Training game in which, a few innings earlier, his collision with Rafael Furcal left the shortstop with an ankle injury that plagued him all season.

Repko said he remains optimistic he can report to Spring Training 100 percent healthy.

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"All year I was pushing it, hoping to get back in time to play in September, then hoping I could play in Arizona," said Repko. "Maybe I pushed too hard."

Repko said the hamstring is pain-free with some stiffness that is believed to be scar tissue.

"Right now I'm riding the stationary bike and doing stretching and yoga and pilates for flexibility," he said. "Overall, I feel great about my progress. But my body was sore, and by the time they told me to stop, it was sort of a relief. You know how I am. I'm full-effort, I can't help it. It was better to back off."

It wasn't the hamstring that interrupted his offseason rehab but the left ankle that he badly sprained in 2006. Repko said doctors suspected he might have a stress fracture or the vulnerability to suffer one.

"They saw a line in an X-ray that might be a weak bone or a stress fracture there earlier in the year and it got sore again in Arizona," he said.

"I was shagging in the outfield and taking batting practice and doing running drills at 100 percent -- full effort and my hamstring felt fine. I still need to build up my running speed to 100 percent, but I have four months."

Repko will be 27 next season and has three seasons of Major League service, although he has played only 196 games, primarily as a fourth outfielder. He was limited to only 69 games in 2006 after spraining his ankle climbing the outfield fence while trying to pull back a home run.

The ankle and hamstring injuries have been particularly devastating to Repko, whose game emphasizes running speed and defense. Repko's roster spot was taken by Matt Kemp, who hit .342 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 96 games and is expected to be a starter in 2008.

With three years of service time, Repko technically is eligible for salary arbitration, although the club would more likely non-tender Repko if a modest contract agreement is not reached.

"I haven't said anything to anybody about next year or asked questions," said Repko. "I'm focusing on my health. I just want to be healthy."

Repko's career has been plagued by injuries. In his first full professional season of 2000, he suffered a torn right hamstring in extended Spring Training and played only eight games that year. The following year, he fractured vertebrae in his back.

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

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