Furcal nearing rehab assignment

Furcal nearing rehab assignment

ATLANTA -- Disabled Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal has made enough recent improvement from a lower back strain that he might join Manny Ramirez on a Minor League rehab assignment this week.

Furcal, who is eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, had a thorough workout Saturday -- including batting practice in the cage -- and felt well enough Sunday, when the Dodgers did not take BP on the field, to run aggressively in the outfield under the direction of trainer Stan Conte.

"We're looking at some point here in the next few days [at] a rehab for one or two games," manager Joe Torre said.

Jamey Carroll, Furcal's replacement at shortstop, was given a break Sunday as recently returned Juan Castro started at shortstop. In 13 August games, Carroll is batting .342 with five runs and five RBIs. Signed for a bench role, he's appeared in 103 games. Only Matt Kemp, James Loney and Casey Blake have played in more.

Blake did not start Sunday, with Ronnie Belliard at third base.

Ramirez, out a month with a strained right calf muscle, will be in Los Angeles on Tuesday, when the Dodgers return from their trip, to be re-evaluated, but he's now doing all baseball activities, including running.