Good News, Bad News for L.A. Infielders

The Dodgers got good news and bad news recently. Rafael Furcal's damaged ankle will not need surgery but Tony Abreu's puzzling stomach ailment will need repair and he will be good as new.

Shortstop Rafael Furcal, who went down during spring training with a sprained left ankle, a sprain that never really healed, learned that he wouldn't have to be surgically repaired.

An MRI exam on the ankle was negative. The injury limited Furcal to 25 steals, down from 37 the previous season, and without a healthy ankle, his home run total slipped from 15 in 2006 to only 6, none of them from the right side of the plate.

Abreu underwent surgery in Philadelphia to repair a strained abdominal muscle that bothered him over the second half of the season. Abreu was injured in July and ugly questions arose concerning the injury, or perceived injury, when he was optioned back to Las Vegas. Some suggested he was only pouting about being sent back to the minor leagues.

But, like the tombstone that read, "See, I told you I was sick," the youngster was actually hurt. An examination discovered a significant strain in a muscle that connects to the pelvis. The infielder was expected to be fully healed in six to eight weeks.  

Players can not be optioned to the minor league if they are injured, they must be placed on the disabled list where they received their regular Major League salary until they are completely healed. The severity of the original injury led to the players' union filing a grievance against the Dodgers on his behalf recently.

Abreu rested at Las Vegas, was placed on the inactive list as a result of the dispute, then resumed playing in August and was a September call-up.

He is considered the heir apparent to Jeff Kent at second base, and he also started games this season at third base and shortstop. He finished the season batting .271 with two homers, 17 RBIs and 17 runs scored in 166 at-bats. He was a standout for Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting .355 in 54 games after being voted the top rookie in Spring Training.

He said he was never fully recovered and worsened the injury Sept. 23 in Arizona while lunging for a ground ball after making a spectacular play behind second base.