Rafael Furcal could start rehab Tuesday

MILWAUKEE -- Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment as soon as Tuesday, which means he could rejoin the club in the next couple of weeks.

"That would be the most optimistic scenario," Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said. "At this point, the key is getting him back and playing. The actual timing of it isn't that important, so we're not going to take any unnecessary risks at this point."

In other words, it won't be terribly alarming if Furcal isn't ready to begin rehab next week. Furcal had hoped to do that last week before he suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-back strain. He received a cortisone injection at that time, and when the Dodgers hit the road on Monday, Furcal reported to the team's spring-training complex in Glendale, Ariz., where he felt well enough to resume baseball activities Wednesday.

Furcal is now hitting off a tee and throwing. He will be re-examined Monday at Dodger Stadium, when the team begins a six-game homestand.

"We want him to do some pool-type running and see how that goes," Conte said. "He has felt better since the shot."

Padilla might not need rehab

Conte hinted that right-hander Vicente Padilla, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since Friday with a bulging disk in his neck, might not need a minor league rehab. Padilla has played long toss each of the past two days, and Conte hopes he can throw off a mound for the first time before Friday night's game at Colorado.

However, Conte didn't sound optimistic that Padilla will return as soon as he becomes eligible on Tuesday.
"That's not unrealistic, but I don't know how practical it is as far as getting him on a mound enough to make sure he's OK," Conte said.

Broxton update

Although Jonathan Broxton looked like his old self in pitching a perfect eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said there is no timetable for easing Broxton back into the closer's role, which basically belongs to Hong-Chih Kuo for now, but really is by committee because Kuo rarely pitches on consecutive days.

"I don't think I can make a plan right now," Torre said. "Him being our closer isn't as important as our need to win games. We know what he has inside of him, and he isn't afraid of it. It's just a matter of him getting comfortable again."

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