Rafael Furcal aims to start rehab soon

PITTSBURGH -- Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 12 with a broken left thumb, said Wednesday night that he is hoping to begin his minor league rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Albuqerque on Saturday. That could put him on track to return to the lineup sometime next week, but that isn't a certainty.

The final hurdle for the switch-hitting Furcal is being able to hit right-handed without pain, something he reported dramatic improvement in after taking batting practice from that side for the third time in four days on Wednesday.

Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said earlier this week that once he clears Furcal medically to begin a rehab assignment, he will leave it to general manager Ned Colletti to decide how long the assignment will last and when Furcal is ready for major league competition.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.