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Furcal's bad break creates opportunities for others

The Sports Xchange
Notes, Quotes · Roster Report · Furcal's bad break creates opportunities for others

Rafael Furcal is out 4-6 weeks with a broken left thumb, which means he won't get the 600 plate appearances needed for his $12 million club option to automatically vest. It doesn't automatically mean his Dodger career will end after this season, though. The Dodgers could always re-sign Furcal for a much cheaper contract. With five trips to the disabled list since joining the Dodgers, and six total, the 33-year-old Furcal won't be getting the 3-4 year contract offers he received after the 2008 season.

The shortstop-in-waiting is presumed to be Dee Gordon, but he needs to have a strong season at Class AAA Albuquerque for the Dodgers to anoint him the new shortstop. In recent years, the Dodgers have eased younger players into the lineup by having a veteran share the playing time.

"We'll see how the year goes," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said, before the Dodgers lost 5-4 to the Giants to even the three-game series.

Furcal will likely return from the disabled list around Memorial Day. While he's gone, Jamey Carroll becomes the primary shortstop. Juan Uribe will also play there a little. Aaron Miles and Ivan De Jesus, Jr. are only viewed as shortstops in an emergency.

When a right-handed pitcher starts, Tony Gwynn, Jr. will start in left field and bat leadoff. When a lefty starts, Carroll is the mostly likely candidate to leadoff, although manager Don Mattingly said fifth outfielder Xavier Paul and even Uribe are possibilities.

De Jesus was recalled from Class AAA Albuquerque to take Furcal's place on the roster. He wasn't in the starting lineup Tuesday, but he should get a fair amount of starts because the Dodgers don't want to stunt his development by sitting on the bench in the majors.

In his first two games, De Jesus was 0-for-7 with five strikeouts, but Colletti pointed to the sample size and said, "the bat will play in the majors."

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