PHOENIX -- Don't like seeing that .196 Spring Training batting average next to the name of Rafael Furcal? Neither does he. "I don't know what's the matter," said the 32-year-old shortstop and leadoff hitter. "It's not like I don't work hard. I see the ball good, my back is fine. It's a little bit frustrating. I don't understand. Maybe I struggle now and start the season hot."
Furcal also has committed five errors in 21 games, but as the leadoff hitter assigned to set the table for the likes of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez, it is Furcal's offense that makes him a unique player. He has one extra-base hit and one stolen base. "He doesn't use his hands enough, he's not relaxed enough, he tries to muscle everything," said general manager Ned Colletti. "He made the adjustment late last year. He relaxed and used his hands." Hitting coach Don Mattingly said he's noticed recent improvements in Furcal. "I'm not worried about Raffy," Mattingly said. "The last few days his work's been good. He feels better about his swing, and that usually means it's coming."