ATLANTA -- Los Angeles Dodgers coaches Bob Schaefer and Larry Bowa both said Friday they called Dave Stewart, the former Dodgers pitcher and current player agent who represents embattled center fielder Matt Kemp, after Stewart accused Schaefer and Bowa in a column that appeared in Friday's editions of the Los Angeles Times of publicly criticizing Kemp.
Both Schaefer, the Dodgers' bench coach who also works with outfielders, and Bowa, the team's third-base coach who also works with infielders, said their conversations with Stewart were positive and productive. But both also took exception to Stewart's comments.
"I called Dave Stewart, and we had a good talk," Schaefer said. "I've got a job to do, he has a job to do. I'm doing my job, and he is doing his job. My job is to make players better. I can't make a player better, but I can help a player make himself better by telling him certain things or giving him certain things he can improve on. It's up to the player to make himself better with our guidance, so to speak."
Schaefer said he was motivated to call Stewart because he says he believes he never publicly criticized Kemp in any way.
"I never made a negative comment in the papers about Matt Kemp," Schaefer said. "We talk to all these guys all the time because we care about them, and because we're trying to make them better players and better people."
Bowa said he hadn't actually read the Times story, but that he had been told about Stewart's comments therein, which is why he called Stewart and talked to him for what Bowa said was about 90 minutes in the middle of the night on Friday morning. Stewart's accusation against Bowa apparently stemmed from several comments Bowa made in a Times column that ran Aug. 2 in which Bowa said, among other things, the following:
"I wish I had Matt Kemp's tools because I would be in Cooperstown. He has so much athleticism. I don't know if he knows what it's like to go full bore for nine innings. He's so talented, I don't think his mind lets him ask, 'Is there more here?'"
After talking to Stewart, Bowa denied he slighted Kemp in any way.
"What did I do?" he asked rhetorically. "I don't see what I did. I'm not even involved with it. I don't work with [Kemp] every day. Schaef works with him. I don't. But I root for every guy on this team when he gets into that batter's box, whether it's a pitcher, catcher, right fielder, center fielder, left fielder or pinch hitter. I want them to do good every time they get into the box. I want us to score 15 runs a game, and I don't care who gets the hit.
"I just want to win."
Furcal will need rehab assignment
Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, who finally was put on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, more than a week after leaving a game against the San Diego Padres with what was later diagnosed as a lower-back strain, will need a minor league rehabilitation assignment before he returns.
And with Furcal's back still not significantly improved, that rehab probably won't start soon enough to allow Furcal to return to the Dodgers' lineup as soon as he becomes eligible Wednesday night against Colorado.
"It's unlikely," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Raffy is better than he was [Thursday], but it just hasn't disappeared. We're all in agreement that once he gets to where he is free of any kind of discomfort, he will go on a rehab at some point."
Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez -- who has been on the 15-day DL since July 20 because of a right-calf strain, might be on track to begin a minor league rehab by the middle of next week, according to Torre. Or, he might not be, according to trainer Stan Conte, who has learned to be extremely cautious when making predictions about Ramirez.
"He is feeling fine," Torre said. "He is hitting, and he is doing all his baseball stuff. It's possible he will be rehabbing by next week."
Conte was more cautious, saying calf injuries are unpredictable.
"With a calf injury, even the player doesn't know [how it will respond] until he actually does it," Conte said.
Draft picks update
The Dodgers have signed Devon Ethier, their 32nd-round draft pick and the younger brother of right fielder Andre Ethier, but time is running out on first-rounder Zach Lee, a right-hander out of McKinney High School in Texas, and Kevin Gausman, a right-hander out of Grandview High School in suburban Denver.
Both Lee and Gausman are headed to Louisiana State University if they don't sign with the Dodgers, Lee for football as a quarterback as well as baseball and Gausman for baseball only.
There are strong indications the Dodgers are no longer trying to sign Gausman, who a team source said appears to be dead set on going to LSU. But despite widespread speculation the Dodgers deliberately drafted an unsignable player with the 28th overall pick because of financial concerns, the club is expected to at least make a serious offer to Lee before Monday's 9 p.m. PT deadline for signing this year's draft picks.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.