Furcal's back injury likely to sideline him until after All-Star break

This is how important leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal is to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Furcal is tied for the team lead in runs scored -- even though he has not played since May 5 because of a bulging disk in his back.

The timetable is not favoring the Dodgers, however. Manager Joe Torre said on Tuesday that Furcal is not likely to return until after the All-Star break, especially after last week's visit to the doctor. Torre added that the possibility of back surgery has not been discussed yet.

"If we get him back before the All-Star break it's a bonus, but I don't see that happening," Torre said in the Los Angeles Times.

The Dodgers are 18-14 in games started by Furcal, and 13-24 without him. And they could use his offense right about now, with the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks suddenly in a mini-slump and giving the second-place Dodgers an opening.

Before his injury, Furcal was batting .366, with 16 RBIs, eight stolen bases and 34 runs scored in 32 games.

Furcal's 34 runs scored is tied with Russell Martin for the team lead -- but Martin has played in 68 games.

In the meantime, the Dodgers have asked
Nomar Garciaparra to get to know his old position again as he continues his rehabilitation assignment in Las Vegas.

Garciaparra, who has been out since April 26 with a left calf strain, would give Torre another option at shortstop, even though he hasn't played the position since 2005.

The Dodgers have been relying on 30-year-old shortstop Angel Berroa -- acquired from the Kansas City Royals on June 6 -- and minor league infielder Luis Maza.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.