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Furcal could return to lineup by Friday

Furcal could return to lineup by Friday

ANAHEIM -- When Nomar Garciaparra took ground balls at shortstop this week, it led to speculation that the veteran might temporarily return to his natural position until Rafael Furcal returns from the disabled list.

But in the last few days, Furcal has made steady improvement from his back sprain, while Garciaparra's recovery from a strained calf muscle has stalled.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre is hopeful that Furcal, eligible to be activated Wednesday, could be back in the lineup by Friday.

But Los Angeles is planning to set up tests on Garciaparra to determine if he has anything more than a strain. Garciaparra hasn't been able to step up his running and quick movements since pushing the calf during a strenuous workout Tuesday in Milwaukee.

"It won't go away," Torre said. "He tried to run and jog and it's still there. It's frustrating to him. We talked yesterday. He'll get it checked when we get home."

Meanwhile, Furcal is playing catch and is expected to increase baseball activities Monday when the club returns to Los Angeles.

Garciaparra's injury, coming one week after his return from a broken hand, has provided playing time for Blake DeWitt, who has responded with a Rookie of the Year start, and might keep the job even when Garciaparra is healthy. Furcal's playing time has gone to Chin-lung Hu, who has struggled offensively and defensively, and Luis Maza, a natural second baseman.

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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