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Roster decisions loom for LA

Roster decisions loom for LA

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LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers will have some roster decisions on their hands in the next week as a plethora of injured players are expected to return.

Shortstop Rafael Furcal (lower back soreness) and infielder Nomar Garciaparra (left calf) could return by next weekend in San Francisco, and outfielder Andruw Jones (arthroscopic right knee surgery) is expected back after the All-Star break.

Pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (right shoulder) is all set to start Wednesday in Houston after feeling fine coming out of Saturday's simulated game. Pitcher Brad Penny (shoulder) will throw a simulated game on Tuesday and he would be on tap for a return Saturday night in San Francisco if all goes well.

Those looming returns mean Chan Ho Park will return to the bullpen after two stellar starts in which he yielded one run in 11 innings.

"They're difficult, but it's a nice situation knowing that we're first off getting healthier with some people who are going to be regulars on our club," manager Joe Torre said of the club's upcoming decisions. "Secondly, it gets our depth back. We're going to have some people in support areas, but we just have to make up our mind when we do have to move people out what we're going to need at the present time to support what we have."

Before the position players return, Furcal, Garciaparra and Jones will head to Triple-A Las Vegas for four games starting Monday. Garciaparra will spend time at first, third and shortstop to provide the team with coverage all over the infield when he returns.

Jones' rehab will include returning to Los Angeles for the weekend to rest before going back to Vegas for eight more games.

"We hope they get out of their healthy," Torre said. "I think you just go out there, get used to playing, and Andruw's case is a little bit different because you want to pay more attention and the people that are watching him pay more attention to just his leg, make sure there's no favoring going on and that he's physically sound."

Torre said he thinks the combination of Jones' healing knee, losing some weight during his time off and clearing his mind after a horrible start in which he hit .165 with just two homers and seven RBIs will make him a different player when he returns.

Furcal said he feels fine right now and is anxious to test his back in game action for the first time since being sidelined on May 5.

"I just want to go over there, test it, see how I feel, try to play four games over there, try to get as many at-bats as I can to see if I feel so good to be ready to go," Furcal said.

Injured pitcher Jason Schmidt was not happy with his command in Saturday's rehab start for Las Vegas, but Torre said "everything else looked pretty clean."

Schmidt, who underwent major shoulder surgery last year, allowed one run on three hits while throwing 45 pitches in 2 2/3 innings, hitting 91 and 92 mph on the gun.

He will stay in Vegas to pitch Thursday in Triple-A, a game that could feature about $55 million in salaries from the four rehabbing Dodgers, who are four of Los Angeles' five top-paid players.

Torre expects Schmidt to need the full 30 days allowed for a Minor League rehab stint.

Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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