Rafael Furcal scratched from Dodgers lineup

Back from his self-imposed exile in Miami, Manny Ramirez worked out at Dodger Stadium on Monday for the first time since being suspended for violating baseball’s drug policy, a Dodgers spokesman confirmed.

Ramirez hit, ran, threw and did some strength training at the ballpark, from which he had kept his distance until Monday.

When he and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt met this month, they did so at Ramirez’s apartment in Pasadena. And when Ramirez addressed teammates per McCourt’s request, he did so when the Dodgers were in Miami two weeks ago.

Ramirez plans to maintain a low public profile, according to sources with knowledge of the situation who did not want to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter. The All-Star outfielder won’t address the media this week and is expected to offer few details about his use of banned substances when he does.


Ramirez has 33 games remaining on his 50-game suspension and is eligible to return no sooner than July 3.

He is expected to spend some time at the Dodgers’ spring training facility in Arizona. League rules would permit Ramirez to play in as many as 10 minor league games at the end of his suspension to prepare for his return.

Furcal’s pain

The tight muscle that Rafael Furcal had Monday wasn’t in the part of his back that he had surgically repaired last year.


But it was close enough.

With the Dodgers opening a three-game series in Colorado with a day game after a night of travel, Manager Joe Torre and the medical staff decided not to take any chances with what they called a strained buttocks and held Furcal out of the Dodgers’ 16-6 victory over the Rockies.

Trainer Stan Conte called the move precautionary, and Furcal said he expected to be back in the lineup today.

“This isn’t something that will keep me out for three or four days,” Furcal said.


Furcal said he jammed his left leg when he reached for a ground ball in Philadelphia two weeks ago. Conte said the injury is unrelated to the back problems that required Furcal to undergo surgery and miss 4 1/2 months last season.

Furcal has hit only .219 in the eight games he has played since the Dodgers left Philadelphia but didn’t blame his inability to get out of his season-long slump on the sore muscle. Furcal is batting .238 this year.

“I think about the pain every now and then,” he said. “But that’s not why. Things just aren’t working out for me right now.”

Furcal said he still hasn’t regained his timing at the plate, something he blames on having missed so much of last season.


“Sometimes I swing too early,” he said. “Other times I swing too late.”

But he said he’s been trying to do something about it, taking early batting practice and watching more video than usual.

“It’s not because I’m not working,” he said.

Furcal’s seven errors are the most among National League shortstops, but he said he wasn’t particularly concerned about his defense, noting that most of his errors were throwing mistakes. Reaching balls, he said, hasn’t been a problem.


Ethier rests another day

Andre Ethier was out of the lineup for the second consecutive day because of soreness in the big toe of his right foot. Ethier, who split his toenail in spring training, was hit there Saturday by a pitch from the Angels’ John Lackey.

Torre said he held out Ethier for another day because the Rockies were starting a left-hander, Jorge De La Rosa. Ethier could be back in the lineup tonight.

“It feels a lot better than it did yesterday,” Ethier said.