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Progress on the injury front

Progress on the injury front

LOS ANGELES -- There was progress on the Dodgers injury front, albeit incremental.

Rafael Furcal, who is nursing a sore lower back, continued to engage in baseball activities, while manager Joe Torre indicated Nomar Garciaparra (left calf strain) could begin a rehab assignment as early as Monday.

Among the pitchers, Jason Schmidt threw a bullpen session Tuesday afternoon as the Dodgers opened an Interleague Series with the White Sox while Brad Penny and Hiroki Kuroda each threw off flat ground and are slated to throw bullpens Wednesday.

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Penny and Kuroda are currently on the disabled list with right shoulder strains while Schmidt has yet to return from the shoulder surgery he had last June.

Getting Furcal back would provide a tremendous lift to an offense that has struggled to produce, ranking 13th in the National League in runs scored, 14th in RBIs and 15th in home runs.

Before his injury, Furcal was hitting .366 with a .448 on-base percentage and his 34 runs still rank fourth on the club despite the fact he missed his 44th game Tuesday. Juan Pierre has hit .264 as the leadoff man in Furcal's absence and entered Tuesday with 11 hits in his last 32 at-bats.

The club is eager to have its shortstop return to the lineup but will not press the issue.

"We're just moving forward with more baseball stuff with Raffy," Torre said. "That is the most significant thing. There is still no date in mind but we'll see with the rest of this homestand where he gets to and how he feels. We're just going to pick up on his baseball work."

After being plagued by a sore left ankle and spending time on the DL last season Furcal is frustrated to be sidelined for the second straight year with the club and he's expressed disappointment at putting the brakes on such a hot start this year. Furcal is also in a contract year with his three-year, $39 million deal set to expire to at season's end.

His focus, though, is solely on returning to the field.

"I just want to get healthy," Furcal said. "After this season, we'll see what happens."

The on-again, off-again return of Garciaparra appears to be more on.

The Dodgers infielder has missed 53 games with a strained left calf but recently cut in half the 10 days he was prescribed to take off by his physical therapist in Boston and is getting closer to a rehab assignment.

"Nomar is doing some baseball stuff and possibly when we leave on this trip he'll be rehabbing and play a game somewhere," Torre said.

Garciaparra is cautiously optimistic.

"That's what I'm aiming for," Garciaparra said. "I'm going to try."

Torre said they'll wait to see how Kuroda feels following his bullpen before making a decision on whether to fold him back into the rotation Saturday against the Angels, the first day he's available. Chan Ho Park will start Friday with Chad Billingsley on Saturday if Kuroda is not activated.

Mike Scarr 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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{"content":["interleague_play" ] }