Rafael Furcal could start rehab soon

NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 12 with a broken left thumb, said Saturday he believes he will be ready to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment sometime next week.

That could put Furcal on track for a return to the active roster sometime in the middle of the team's upcoming, seven-game homestand against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants.

The switch-hitting Furcal took ground balls and left-handed batting practice on the field before Saturday night's game with the New York Mets at Citi Field. He tried hitting right-handed in an indoor cage but still felt discomfort during his swing because of his top hand pushing against the thumb.

"Maybe by the middle of next week,'' Furcal said of when he might begin rehab. "As soon as I can hit right-handed. I'll need three or four games, maybe.''

However, Dodgers trainer Stan Conte was a bit more cautious in his assessment, saying he has no target date for Furcal to begin a rehab.

"This was a positive step for him,'' Conte said. "[But] he has to be able to hit left-handed and right-handed, do everything at shortstop and put on a tag at second base. He may do all that in the next one or two days, but we don't know that.''

The Dodgers are 9-12 since Furcal broke his hand sliding headfirst into third base during an April 11 game in San Francisco.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.