Furcal could be back as early as Sunday

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal could be activated from the 15-day disabled list as soon as Sunday against Detroit, but manager Joe Torre hinted that with no game scheduled Monday, Furcal's return likely will be pushed to Tuesday night, when the club begins a three-game series at Chicago.

Furcal had hoped to skip a minor-league rehabilitation assignment, but Torre and trainer Stan Conte felt he needed at least one game to test his strained left hamstring under competitive conditions. So the parties reached a compromise: Furcal will play a game at extended spring training in Glendale, Ariz., on Saturday.

Extended spring games are loosely structured, so Furcal can get as many at-bats as he needs, possibly one in every inning.

"You have more control there," Torre said. "Not too many guys are crazy about playing in those games, and one game certainly won't be enough to get your timing. He will have to get that here. The things we're concerned about are the things that surprise your body, the quick moves and the first step out of the box, things like that. Physically, he feels he is there. Playing in game conditions will hopefully validate that."

Furcal injured himself running out a double-play grounder in the first game of a doubleheader at New York on April 27, and he hasn't played since. At the time, the switch-hitting leadoff man was batting .309 with a .378 on-base percentage.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.