Dodgers' Rafael Furcal to begin rehab

ATLANTA -- Assuming he continues to experience improvement in his lower back, Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal probably will begin his minor league rehabilitation on Wednesday, trainer Stan Conte said. Dodgers manager Joe Torre added that the rehab probably will take place at high Single-A Inland Empire.

"In Raffy's case, it's more or less about testing himself around shortstop," Torre said.

Furcal has been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 11, but he has been sidelined with the injury since Aug. 2, when he left a game with the San Diego Padres after experiencing minor discomfort in the back before the game that gradually worsened during the game.

Torre hinted earlier this week that Furcal's rehab probably will consist of no more than a couple of games.

Tough to estimate Manny's return

Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez worked out one last time at the team's spring-training complex in Glendale, Ariz., on Monday morning before heading to Los Angeles, where he will be examined by team medical personnel before Tuesday night's game with the Colorado Rockies in order to gauge his readiness for a minor league rehab assignment.

Even if Ramirez is ready to start a rehab on Wednesday, because he has basically been out since June 29 -- he was knocked out of a game in the first inning that night with a right-hamstring injury, came back for one game on July 15, then was knocked out in the first inning again on July 16 with a right-calf injury -- his rehab likely will be longer than Furcal's.

"I think he'll have to DH and then play some outfield," Torre said. "I think it's tough for us to estimate when he'll be ready to go because he will have to tell us."

Torre downplayed the notion that Ramirez's extended absence has created a psychological drag on the rest of the team, which has been struggling offensively without him.

"I don't think our players are emotionally affected by it," Torre said. "I think they may be physically affected by it, because without him in the lineup, they aren't being pitched to. As far as emotionally, I think we got over that last year with how well we did once we got it going (while Ramirez served his 50-game suspension). I think the rest of these guys realized they were pretty good themselves."

No worries about Padilla

Torre reiterated that he isn't concerned about veteran right-hander Vicente Padilla, who arguably has been the Dodgers' most reliable starter when healthy this season but who has suddenly hit a wall, given up 12 runs and 14 hits over 9 1/3 innings in his past two starts.

"He's going to be all right," Torre said. "You just go through a couple of flat spots. With him, his location has been so good when he has pitched. When he doesn't hit his location, bad things are going to happen. He is still going back out there in four days (on Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds). I still have confidence in him."

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.