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.