MILWAUKEE -- Shortstop Rafael Furcal had to be placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday when his lower back injury turned out to be worse than the club had believed.
Management has attempted to acquire an emergency replacement for Furcal, who has been its best player this year. Assuming that doesn't happen by Tuesday's game with the Brewers, it is expected to purchase Luis Maza from Triple-A Las Vegas, where he is hitting .402, third in the Pacific Coast League.
Furcal did not fly to Milwaukee with the club on Monday, instead undergoing an MRI and receiving a cortisone injection in his sprained sacro-iliac joint. He was disabled retroactive to May 6, meaning he would be eligible to return on May 21, but with lower back injuries, there is no way to predict how long he will be out. He will begin rehab therapy on Wednesday.
Furcal, who suffered an almost identical injury last September, was said to be day to day, and wound up missing the final 12 games of the season. He's already missed the past five games, the Dodgers losing the last four of them, while the offense has struggled with rookie Chin-lung Hu replacing Furcal at shortstop and Juan Pierre taking over the leadoff spot in the batting order.
Losing Furcal even for another nine days is a crushing blow to an offense that has no formidable force. He even leads the club with five home runs, along with a .366 average, 34 runs scored, 12 doubles, a .597 slugging percentage and a .448 on-base percentage.
The difference between a healthy and injured Furcal is best demonstrated by the fact that with a healthy Furcal in 2006, the Dodgers tied for the division lead. Furcal played injured the entire 2007 season and the Dodgers finished fourth.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.