Notes: Furcal returns to the lineup
Shortstop had missed nearly two weeks with sore shoulder
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Shortstop Rafael Furcal returned to the lineup for the first time in nearly two weeks with a double and run scored in the Dodgers' 4-3 win over Detroit on Tuesday."I feel good. My throwing is coming back, and I can swing the bat," said Furcal, sidelined for the second spring by a sore throwing shoulder. "I was a little aggressive my first two at-bats (grounders to short), trying to do too much. I was seeing the ball so good, I was jumping a bit. But everything is fine. Physically, I'm in good shape." Manager Grady Little, who saw Furcal go from an injury-plagued spring a year ago to become his most consistent offensive force, was glad to write his name into the leadoff spot for the first time since the exhibition opener March 1. "It was good to see Raffy back out there," Little said. "He got his feet on the ground, and it was fun to watch. He felt good with all of his swings and that's what the No. 1 concern is." Furcal's swings were nothing compared to the one Tony Abreu laid on Bobby Seay for a booming walk-off home run with one out in the ninth inning for the Dodgers' victory. Abreu took a good, long look at the blast to left field before he started his game-ending jog around the bases. "You experience that and hope you leave an impression on the people in charge that, someday, they can use me here," said Abreu, who figures to play second base at Triple-A Las Vegas this year. The 22-year-old Abreu has gained 40 pounds since his first Spring Training four years ago. He's never hit more than eight home runs in four previous professional seasons, but already has three in only 27 spring at-bats with a .407 average and .815 slugging percentage. His nine RBIs are one shy of Larry Bigbie's team high. Game recap: Starter Derek Lowe was efficient enough with his pitches to become the first starter for the Dodgers to go five innings this spring, while no other pitcher has even gone four. "Lowe looks like he's ready to go," Little said. Starting third baseman Wilson Betemit went 2-for-3, made a fine play to start a double play and was praised by Little. Russell Martin had a pair of doubles, and Luis Gonzalez had two hits. Replacement third baseman Andy La Roche, however, committed his sixth error of the spring when he collided with shortstop Wilson Valdez on a popup that resulted in two unearned runs scoring. Valdez was charged with an error earlier in the inning. "There was a little miscommunication out there," Little said of the collision. The bullpen pitched four innings without allowing an earned run. Chin-hui Tsao, throwing hard, had a scoreless inning while Rudy Seanez, making a strong bid for a staff spot, has allowed one hit in five scoreless innings with five strikeouts and no walks. D.J. Houlton, pitching only the ninth, got the win and has a 1.93 ERA.
The back fields: Reliever Jonathan Broxton pitched two innings in a Minor League intra-squad game on Tuesday morning. Broxton made 33 pitches, allowed one double, struck out three with a walk."We'll do this for a few of our relievers so they can get up and down twice," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. The schedule calls for closer Saito and situational left-hander Joe Beimel to repeat the exercise in the next week. Saito, credited with a blown save on Tuesday when a pair of errors behind him led to two unearned runs, will work his Minor League game on Friday, thus avoiding the Boston Red Sox and the media circus that follows scheduled opposing starter and fellow former Japanese start Daisuke Matsuzaka. Kuo's status: The Dodgers do not expect disciplinary action from MLB in the wake of pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo's positive test during the Asian Games for a banned substance he said came from medication for a cold. "We've spoken with Kuo and his agent, and we are aware that Major League Baseball is looking into the issue," general manager Ned Colletti said in a statement. "Given Kuo's explanation that this was simply a cold medicine, we consider it a non-issue unless new developments come to light." Injury update: Outfielder Jason Repko swung off a tee and said his strained groin muscle was improved. He plans to step up to soft-toss on Wednesday. "I'd like to say I'll be ready to start the season, but I really won't know until I start to run and make those quick-twitch movements," he said. "But right now it feels better than I expected." Marlon Anderson (elbow) is expected to make his game debut on Thursday night as the designated hitter. Anderson has begun to throw after straining weakened muscles around his elbow, which had bone chips removed. Paying their respects: Former Phillies Randy Wolf and Mike Lieberthal were excused from practice to attend the funeral of former Philadelphia coach John Vukovich. Colletti, who has often mentioned Vukovich as an inspirational figure in his career, also attended. Coming up: Everybody but Wolf has a scheduled day off on Wednesday. To keep Wolf on his regular rotation, he will make about 60 pitches in a Minor League intra-squad game in the morning. Nomar Garciaparra and Juan Pierre had Tuesday off after making the bus ride to Fort Lauderdale on Monday. When play resumes on Thursday, the Dodgers will have a split doubleheader, traveling to Jupiter, Fla., for a day game against St. Louis, then hosting Washington in a night game at Vero Beach. Mark Hendrickson starts against the Cardinals, Jason Schmidt starts against the Nationals. Fifth starter candidate Chad Billingsley follows Schmidt.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.