PITTSBURGH -- Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal has taken the padding off his healing broken left thumb, but manager Don Mattingly said Furcal won't be sent out on a Minor League rehab assignment until he's able to swing right-handed without discomfort.
"He still feels something right-handed, so the earliest is Thursday or Friday," Mattingly said. "I don't want him going out until he's not feeling that anymore. I don't want him to push it and do something that sets him back. It's not something I'm concerned about, he's just not ready."
Furcal took batting practice left-handed for the third consecutive day Monday and took infield as well. Once he's able to play in Minor League games, Furcal said he'll only need a handful of contests to be ready, because the rest of his body is in game condition.
Jamey Carroll has done another standout job filling in for Furcal. Carroll had three hits both Saturday and Sunday vs. the Mets, raising his average to .311 while committing only three errors. But Furcal gets the big money, because, when he's healthy and fulfilling his potential, he can be an offensive catalyst and a game-changing defender.
"Jamey has done a great job, and with [Aaron] Miles given us a lot at the top of the order," said Mattingly. "But he's not Fukey, a switch-hitter with speed and energy. He makes us go. We've definitely missed him. But he's got to be ready to play."
Injury may be behind Uribe's latest struggles
PITTSBURGH -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly suspects Juan Uribe is still feeling the effects of the pitch he took on his left hand last week, but Uribe told Mattingly he's fine.
"Ever since he got hit, he hasn't been as good on that hand," Mattingly said of Uribe, who was hit by a 91-mph fastball from Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano last Wednesday.
Since then, Uribe is 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts. Prior to getting hit, Uribe was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts for a combined 0-for-17 and nine strikeouts, taking his batting average from .245 to .213.
"He's just struggled," said Mattingly. "He looks sound mechanically. I don't worry about him. I really think he's going to hit. Sometimes it's matchups. He'll run into a guy he doesn't match up with. Then he'll see guys he matches up good with. He seems a little out of sync. Sometimes a change of scenery in a new series can change what's going on."
Uribe appeared to be heating up in mid-April when he went 9-for-20 through a five-game stretch, only to strain a quad muscle and miss three games.
With Broxton out, bullpen roles determined
PITTSBURGH -- When Jonathan Broxton lost the closer's job last season, an unhittable Hong-Chih Kuo was the obvious choice to replace him.
Broxton is out as closer again for the Dodgers, this time because of an injury. But Vicente Padilla is the closer, and Kuo, at least for now, appears to be the situational lefty.
In New York, manager Don Mattingly brought in Kuo on back-to-back days to face the left-handed-hitting Ike Davis.
"I want to get him back on track," Mattingly said.
For now, it appears Matt Guerrier is the eighth-inning setup man, with Kenley Jansen a candidate to assist even though he just returned from a brief trip to Double-A Chattanooga when Kuo returned from the disabled list.
Mike MacDougal, with significant closer experience, is being used by Mattingly to pitch out of jams. Blake Hawksworth -- who was acquired to be a long reliever but was tried in later situations because his velocity has increased to 97 mph -- now seems to be Mattingly's choice for a middle-relief role in the sixth and seventh innings, with veteran Lance Cormier as the long reliever.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.