Furcal is making a late-season run
Rafael Furcal did something in the last few days that he hasn’t been able to do much of this season: He ran.
Furcal has stolen seven bases in the Dodgers’ last three games, including a career-high four Saturday in a 6-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium. He stole three bases two nights earlier in a win over the San Diego Padres.
Furcal’s season total is now 25, far short of the 37 he had last year and the 46 he had with the Atlanta Braves in 2005.
Responsible for the decline is a left ankle Furcal sprained in spring training that was never allowed to fully heal. Until he sat out a game in San Francisco a week ago, the Dodgers’ shortstop and leadoff hitter hadn’t missed a game since May 26.
“The team was put together with the idea of Raffy and Juan Pierre at the top,” General Manager Ned Colletti said. “They’re going to steal bases and go from first to third, and keep the defense alert, and keep the pitcher and catcher thinking about things besides the guy swinging at the plate.”
And that’s what Colletti said he has seen in recent games.
James Loney, who batted third in the last three games, said he has noticed a change in the demeanor of opposing pitchers.
“They peek over [at first base] a lot more,” Loney said. “They don’t want them getting that base.”
Pierre, who has 58 steals, said he saw more fastballs the last three games hitting behind Furcal. Pierre added that the threat he and Furcal pose on the basepaths lessens the burden on the middle of the lineup.
“It takes a lot of pressure off of the 3-4-5 hitters,” Pierre said. “They don’t necessary have to get a big hit. They can get a sacrifice fly or a ground ball.”
Said Andre Ethier: “If one or two guys are stealing bags, they create opportunities. We get runners in scoring position with less than two outs, and when you have that you can play around with the bat and have a little bit more liberty. You have a chance to drive balls in the gaps instead of looking for that base hit.”
Right-hander Scott Proctor pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and hasn’t given up an earned run in 10 1/3 innings.
The appearance Saturday was Proctor’s 23rd since being acquired by the Dodgers from the New York Yankees at the trade deadline, and his 75th of the season. Over the last two years, Proctor has pitched in 158 games.
“It’s not an issue to me,” Proctor said of the workload, which was a concern when he was acquired in a trade for Wilson Betemit.
Proctor credited his recent streak, which spans 10 games, to the others in the bullpen -- and that includes 23-year-old Jonathan Broxton.
“They’ve pitched in the National League more than I have,” Proctor said. “I’m trying to learn from everybody regardless of how old they are, how much experience they have.”
Russell Martin is scheduled to take the day off today. Jeff Kent rested Saturday, with Tony Abreu taking his place at second base.