Rafael Furcal eyes Friday return

LOS ANGELES -- Veteran shortstop Rafael Furcal said Tuesday that he hopes to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup on Friday night against the San Francisco Giants. Furcal has been sidelined since suffering a lower back strain on Aug. 2.

Furcal said that if he experienced no issues in his pregame work on Tuesday, he will begin a two-game minor league rehabilitation assignment on Wednesday. Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said those two games will be at Triple-A Albuquerque, which is hosting Iowa.

Furcal went to the team's spring training complex in Glendale, Ariz., to continue his rehabilitation last week after suffering a setback the week before that. He returned to Dodger Stadium on Monday and said he continues to feel much better.

"Right now, I feel good," he said. "I still feel it a little bit because you're never 100 percent after you get hurt. But I'm trying to work so hard and do everything I can possibly do to feel better."

When Furcal does rejoin the Dodgers, he likely will find himself in a strange spot in the batting order. With Manny Ramirez having gone to the Chicago White Sox on a waiver claim and with speedsters Scott Podsednik and Ryan Theriot now mainstays at the top of the order, Dodgers manager Joe Torre may decide Furcal, who traditionally hits in the leadoff spot, is a better fit for the third spot in the order because he can hit for power.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.