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Although the Dodgers still had made no decision immediately after Saturday's 6-1 loss to the Angels, manager Don Mattingly sounded like he was leaning heavily toward shelving Thames because he didn't want to have to play a man short, especially with the Dodgers facing six consecutive interleague road games with the designated hitter in use beginning on Monday.
"We have to talk about it,'' Mattingly said. "He is only able to run 75 percent, something like that. I just have to know that I can use him. At this point, I don't think there is any way he can play the field, it seems like to me.''
Meanwhile, Mattingly backed off somewhat on his comments Friday that club officials were considering asking veteran shortstop Rafael Furcal to move to second base so rookie shortstop Dee Gordon can remain in the major leagues when Furcal returns from the 15-day disabled list sometime in the next few days. Furcal, who has a strained oblique, will begin a rehabilitation assignment with advanced Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Sunday.
Thames underwent an MRI on Saturday morning that revealed a strained left calf, matching the original diagnosis of Friday night. Dodgers medical-services director Stan Conte planned to put Thames through the usual paces before Saturday's game to gauge whether he can continue to hit and run -- something Mattingly said might allow him to use Thames as a designated hitter during next week's interleague series at Minnesota if he can avoid the DL.
Thames did appear briefly in the on-deck circle to pinch hit during Saturday's game, but when his turn came to hit, he was pulled back and replaced by Casey Blake.
It isn't immediately clear who would be called up if Thames were to be shelved. Of the three minor league outfielders presently on the Dodgers' 40-man roster, Jerry Sands and Trayvon Robinson -- both of whom are highly touted prospects -- were in the starting lineup for Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday night. Jamie Hoffmann, an older player who isn't necessarily a prospect but does have a small amount of big league service time, wasn't in the Isotopes lineup. He presently is hitting .293 with 12 homers, 38 RBIs and a .364 OBP.
"We're talking a little bit about a number of guys, so I hate to say who it may be at this point," Mattingly said.
Meanwhile, Mattingly said he finally addressed the possibility of moving Furcal to second base directly with Furcal after seeing a group of reporters ask Furcal about it on Friday, something that clearly caught Furcal off guard.
But with Gordon having gone 1-for-18 in his previous five games entering Saturday, resulting in his average falling from .326 to .246, a position switch might not be needed anyway.
"(Furcal) was good (about it)," Mattingly said. "Fookie is kind of willing to do whatever, but I don't know if that is the best thing for him, honestly. We'll keep having discussions ... (but) there is hesitation for me, even though he is willing to do whatever we ask. I just don't know if it's the right time."
Furcal hasn't played second base in the major leagues to any significant degree since his rookie season with the Atlanta Braves in 2000. He also has played there extensively in the Dominican Winter League, but not in about three years.
Also, Mattingly said the target for reliever Jonathan Broxton's return is Friday, when the Dodgers begin a three-game series with the Angels in Anaheim. Broxton, who has been on the 15-day DL since May 6 with a bone bruise in his right elbow, will move his rehab from Albuquerque to Rancho Cucamonga, where he is scheduled to make back-to-back appearances on Sunday and Monday after making two appearances earlier this week for the Isotopes.Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.