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June 17 is new target for Furcal

Times Staff Writer

Rafael Furcal could be back in the Dodgers’ lineup by the time they open a three-game series in Cincinnati on June 17, Manager Joe Torre said Friday.

“I think that’s reasonable,” Torre said.

Furcal, who last played May 5, resumed taking grounders at short Thursday and reported that his strained lower back felt fine the next day.

The Dodgers’ leading hitter will travel with the Dodgers for their upcoming series in San Diego that begins Monday and will work out with the team over the three-game set. If Furcal doesn’t suffer a setback in San Diego, he will be sent on a minor league rehab assignment when the Dodgers head out for a three-game series in Detroit.

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Angel Berroa, who was acquired in a trade from the Kansas City Royals on Friday, probably will start at shortstop until Furcal is ready to be activated.

Kemp’s appeal

Former major league pitcher Dave Stewart, who represents Matt Kemp, said he hopes that his client is able to cut his four-game suspension in half in the appeals process. When Kemp received his punishment from the commissioner’s office for his altercation Tuesday night with Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba, Stewart said he advised the 23-year old outfielder to appeal the punishment because he found it excessive.

“The amount of days and the amount of money is a little bit harsh,” said Stewart, referring to the $2,500 that Kemp was docked.

Because Kemp filed an appeal with the union, he remains eligible to play until the issue is resolved.

Minor league assignments

Jason Schmidt will make his next minor league rehab start at triple-A Las Vegas, as he is scheduled to pitch Sunday for the 51s. Schmidt threw a 50-plus pitch bullpen session Thursday.

Catching Schmidt on that day probably will be Gary Bennett, who is on a minor league assignment to recover from a foot injury and fix the problem that he has throwing the ball back to the mound. Bennett played three games at Class-A Inland Empire and was moved up on Friday to Las Vegas, where he started.

Sweeney’s improving

Mark Sweeney said he strained his right hamstring while rounding first on his way to a double Monday against the Rockies. Sweeney was able to pinch-hit in the fifth inning of the opening game a four-game series with the Cubs on Thursday night, but had to have Chan Ho Park pinch-run for him when he reached base on a single.

“I’m fine hitting,” Sweeney said. “It’s getting better.”

Saito and sumo

Dodgers closer Takashi Saito was interviewed for a Japanese sports variety program by Chiyotaikai, a popular sumo wrestler who will take part in a two-day sumo tournament at the Sports Arena that begins today. Saito told the wrestler that he would try to attend today’s matches.

Also planning to go is Andre Ethier, who has explored various aspects of Japanese culture because of his friendship with Saito.

“I’m excited to go,” Ethier said. “It’s a neat opportunity. He’s introducing me to a lot of new stuff.”

Short hops

Delwyn Young made his third start in six days, starting in right field in place of Ethier. Young was hitting .289 through Thursday. “We’ll get him some games here and get him somewhat comfortable,” Torre said. . . . Russell Martin was out of the lineup, giving backup catcher Danny Ardoin his third start of the season. . . . Jeff Kent, ejected Friday, will sit today. . . . Reliever Yhency Brazoban was placed on the minor league disabled list because of right shoulder inflammation.

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com


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