The Los Angeles Dodgers are down a key member of their infield yet again.
Shortstop and leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday after he broke his left thumb while sliding headfirst into third base on a steal during a 6-1 win over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.
He is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks and will need a rehab assignment. Furcal, so emotional after the injury he mentioned the word retirement, returned to Los Angeles to be examined by a hand specialist and it was determined he doesn't need surgery on his non-throwing hand. Manager Don Mattingly said Furcal would wear a splint for three weeks to limit mobility as he heals but soon could resume doing some baseball activities.
"There are no real positives with Raffy getting hurt but with this he will be able to do some baseball-related things," Mattingly said. "It's not a shot you want to take, really. It's one of those things you have to deal with and you'd rather it happen now than late. I talked to him today. He's pretty down. It's a blow, but I told him, 'I'd rather have you at the end.'"
Los Angeles recalled rookie infielder Ivan De Jesus from Triple-A Albuquerque to fill Furcal's roster spot, though he isn't considered a shortstop option but more a backup at second base. De Jesus went 0 for 7 with five strikeouts while starting the year with the Dodgers, then was optioned to the minors April 5 when third baseman Casey Blake came off the disabled list.
But Blake missed his third straight start Tuesday with a deep thigh bruise on his left leg that happened when San Diego baserunner Chase Headley's knee got him in a collision Saturday.
Blake hoped to be back in the lineup for Wednesday's series finale, and Mattingly said that was a good possibility.
"It hurts to run straight forward, but it's a lot better today," Blake said.
Furcal's injury wasn't immediately known because he stayed in the game for two more innings until Aaron Miles pinch-hit for him in the seventh. He revealed that the thumb was broken after he had postgame X-rays.
"It's bad. It's broken," Furcal, who had already been nursing a sore left wrist, said late Monday. "I knew as soon as the play happened. I got up and I didn't feel it."
Furcal, picked for his second All-Star team last season despite battling injuries, is hitting .192 with two RBIs in seven games.
"I didn't hear anything about retirement," Mattingly said. "But Raffy's a sensitive guy and he's down not to be out there."
In 2010, Furcal had 34 multihit outings while playing in only 97 games — including seven straight multihit games from June 26-July 3. He batted .300 for the third time in five seasons and Los Angeles went 31-17 when he scored at least one run and 13-2 when he scored two or more.
The 33-year-old has had his share of hard luck with injuries.
After a healthy 2009, he had two stints on the DL last year, with a strained left hamstring and a lower back strain. Furcal missed 125 games in 2008 with a lower-back injury and opened the '07 season on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle.