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DODGERS FYI


DODGERS FYI
So far, so good for Rafael Furcal.

The Dodgers' shortstop said the back injury that sidelined him most of last year has not been a problem through the first two weeks of this season.

"I'm feeling good, I feel 100% right now," Furcal said Tuesday before the Dodgers' 8-5 loss to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

"I don't feel any pain in my body right now," said Furcal, 31, who joined the Dodgers in 2006.

"I keep working out, doing my exercises," he said. "I come in early before batting practice, and after the game I'm doing more exercising. I think that has helped me out a lot."

Furcal has one complaint, however: His hitting. He is batting .255 after going 0 for 4 against Houston.

He might be fine physically but, Furcal said, "I don't feel so good right now at home plate."

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Staying humble

Even before Tuesday's loss, the Dodgers were careful to say that the team's early success this season had not translated into overconfidence -- even against the struggling Astros.

After all, four years ago the Dodgers started 11-2. They finished 71-91.

Houston might have been last in the National League Central division when the Dodgers arrived but "it doesn't matter where they are in the standings, you got to go and battle," said slugger Manny Ramirez.

"You have to battle every pitch until the last inning, every single game."

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said, "Hopefully there are enough experienced guys here to understand, first of all, that we're in April."

In addition, he said, the Dodgers had been "fortunate" because the team's strong hitting lately had helped the pitching staff.

"We've been taking a lot of the pressure off the pitchers, and the fact that our pitching staff isn't whole right now, I feel very fortunate to be where we are," Torre said.

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Pitching update

Two Dodgers pitchers on the 15-day disabled list, starter Hiroki Kuroda and reliever Cory Wade, continue to improve, Torre said.

Kuroda, sidelined because of a left oblique strain, was expected to throw again for practice in the bullpen Tuesday or today and "possibly could pitch at the end of the month" in a simulated game, Torre said.

Wade, a right-hander with bursitis in his throwing shoulder, "feels great" and is throwing again at the Dodgers' Camelback Ranch spring-training complex in Phoenix, Torre said.

And Doug Mientkiewicz had surgery Monday to repair his dislocated right shoulder. "Everything went well," Torre said, adding that he's "looking at September" for the utility infielder's return.

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Houston homecoming

Minute Maid Park is familiar confines for three Dodgers who formerly played for Houston before coming west this year via free agency: Randy Wolf, Brad Ausmus and Mark Loretta.

Wolf, who is scheduled to start tonight, pitched for the Astros in the second half of last season, with a 6-2 record and 3.57 earned-run average.

Ausmus, now the Dodgers' backup catcher, spent 10 of his 12 previous seasons with Houston.

And Loretta, a backup infielder born in Santa Monica, played with the Astros in 2002 and again in 2007-08.

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Short hops

Tuesday's game was the first of 20 in 20 days for the Dodgers and it opened a nine-game trip that includes three games each at Houston, Colorado and San Francisco. . . . Thursday's game at Houston will not be televised on Channel 9 as originally planned but is scheduled to be carried by MLB Network.

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james.peltz@latimes.com

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Dodgers TONIGHT

AT HOUSTON

When: 5 PDT

Where: Minute Maid Park

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 790, 930.

Pitchers: Randy Wolf vs. Roy Oswalt.

Update: Wolf faces one of his former teams in his return to Houston, where he played the latter half of 2008 and went 6-2 with a 3.57 earned-run average. The Canoga Park native is 4-4 lifetime against the Astros with a 3.76 ERA in 11 career starts. Oswalt is 5-3 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 3.63 ERA.

-- Jim Peltz


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 22, 2009

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