Notes: Penny at '100 percent'

Notes: Penny at '100 percent'

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Brad Penny, back in action after missing a start, needed 80 pitches over four innings against the Mets on Monday night but said, "I can't ever remember feeling better."

Five days after being sidelined with stiffness in the front of his shoulder, Penny said he felt comfortable enough to throw his splitter in a game for the first time this spring. He had a 39-pitch second inning and was charged with three runs and five walks, but said he wrote off the results to close pitches not called for strikes.

"It's a relief," he said. "That was 100 percent right there. Honestly, I wasn't going to let it go, but I was throwing very hard and it felt effortless. I'm not going to throw harder than that, ever. For me, mentally, this was a test. It's a huge relief to feel pain-free with not one thing in my body hurting."

Manager Grady Little said Penny is on schedule to pitch Saturday in the Freeway Series, then in Game 4 of the season in San Francisco on April 6.

"It was a good outing for him. Very positive," said Little.

Repko out for the year: Outfielder Jason Repko's left hamstring injury is so severe he will require season-ending surgery, team trainer Stan Conte said Monday.

Repko tore two of the three hamstring tendons off the pelvic bone. Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic will perform the surgery Wednesday in Los Angeles.

"The prognosis is good, the timing is bad," said Conte, noting that Repko is expected to make a 100 percent recovery, but the rehab is a minimum of five months. "Essentially, he'll miss the season. It's rare in baseball, more common in football."

Repko suffered the injury racing for a line drive in the gap Thursday and said it occurred when loose dirt on the warning track gave way under his foot.

"I could tell it was bad after it happened and when they told me how bad it was, I broke down," said Repko. "I felt like, why? I was just starting to feel healthy."

Repko had just returned from a strained groin, the latest in a string of injuries that included an ankle sprain that sidelined him 2 1/2 months last year, two broken vertebrae and a hamstring tear in the other leg.

Furcal update: Conte said Rafael Furcal's left ankle is showing dramatic improvement, but the sprain was so severe it's still uncertain whether the shortstop will be ready for Opening Day.

"Two days ago, I probably would have said that was unrealistic, but I'm not so sure now," said Conte. "On a scale of zero to three, it was two-plus. He amazes us being able to do more and more, but he's still got a long way to go."

Furcal has begun playing catch, is running on a treadmill and in a Swim-Ex and said he hopes to begin hitting off a tee Tuesday.

"Getting him out there at shortstop is one thing, but being productive is another issue," said Conte. "You may see him doing baseball stuff, the question is at full-speed."

Kuo update: Conte said pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo has a strained teres major muscle in the back of the shoulder that will sideline him another month.

The muscle is just below the four that make up the rotator cuff and is essential in accelerating the arm for the throwing motion. Kuo reported some discomfort in the area when hit hard by Boston last week. It improved between starts, but worsened when he pitched Wednesday night.

"He's now pain-free but still has a little tightness," said Conte. "We'll do another MRI next week and he'll stay behind when we leave and he'll rejoin us later. If you move too quickly with this, you'll have a setback. We won't let him pitch competitively for another three or four weeks. It's not career threatening."

Anderson gets test: Although he stepped in and became the everyday left fielder in place of slumping Andre Ethier last September, Marlon Anderson underwent surgery for bone chips in his elbow right after the season and it flared up immediately in Spring Training.

Anderson played his first inning in the outfield Monday night and grounded out in his only at-bat, leaving him 0-for-8 this spring. Tuesday, he will get about a dozen at-bats in a Minor League game and he's still likely to make the club as a left-handed pinch-hitter, but his unavailability for extended outfield duty was another factor in the acquisition of Brady Clark and must be considered if the final cut comes down to Larry Bigbie, a career outfielder, and James Loney, a natural first baseman taking a crash course in outfield play.

Matt Kemp, the real loser in the acquisition of Clark, homered against the Mets. Andre Ethier broke out of his slump with two hits.

Freeway Series probables: On Wednesday night, the Dodgers depart for Los Angeles, where they'll start the annual Freeway Series against the Angels on Thursday and Friday at Dodger Stadium and Saturday in Anaheim. Randy Wolf will start the opening game of the series, followed by Jason Schmidt and Brad Penny.

Abreu earns Mulvey Award: Infielder Tony Abreu has been named the winner of the 2007 Jim and Dearie Mulvey Award, which goes to the top rookie in camp. Abreu has an outside chance to make the club, especially if Furcal goes on the disabled list. Some decision-makers believe Abreu would be a better shortstop replacement than Wilson Valdez, who is also on the bubble.

Coming up: Brett Tomko, named the fifth starter Sunday, starts for the Dodgers on Tuesday in Jupiter, Fla., against the Cardinals. Joe Beimel and Jonathan Broxton are also scheduled to pitch. Chris Carpenter starts for St. Louis.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.