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Rafael Furcal breaks thumb, Dodgers left in a bad way

April 11, 2011 | 11:39 pm

Photo: Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal slides into third base as San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval fields the throw during the fifth inning Monday night at AT&T Park. Credit: Beck Diefenbach / Reuters Rafael Furcal is not 83 years old. He just keeps breaking down like he's that age.

Incredibly, remarkably, he is hurt again. Possibly for the last time?

Furcal went down in the fifth inning Monday night in San Francisco while sliding into third base, breaking his left thumb. This follows the left wrist injury he battled over the weekend in San Diego.

Aside from his first season in Los Angeles in 2006, Furcal has battled one injury or another every year. No one is more frustrated by it than Furcal, who was so down after the game he said he was pondering retirement.

Furcal is 33, really. He has gone through back surgery and hamstring injuries, an aching back back and ankle sprains. He has a $12 million club option for next year that would vest with 600 at-bats this season, but that will never happen now.

He’s likely out at least six weeks, so he’s probably asking himself if he's really up for another lengthy rehabilitation period. Break your thumb when you finally feel you’re getting healthy, and you are probably going to have an emotional reaction.

But what if he does actually walk away? (Note: He’s making $13 million this season, highest salary on the team.)

For now, Jamey Carroll figures to slide back into the lineup at shortstop. He did so admirably last season, but Carroll is fighting a finger injury of his own and is 37.

The Dodgers will need to call up another infielder after placing Furcal on the 15-day disabled list. If they want to go Band-Aid, they could bring Juan Castro back up. Try not to get too excited.

They could return Ivan De Jesus Jr. He struggled in a very limited role early this season. They would probably like to call up shortstop prospect Dee Gordon, but he’s hitting only .263 in his first trip to triple-A Albuquerque and his defense remains unreliable.

There really is not a great option for the next six weeks, and only a worse one beyond that if Furcal wakes up next week and still thinks it’s time to call it a career.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal slides into third base as San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval fields the throw during the fifth inning Monday night at AT&T Park. Credit: Beck Diefenbach / Reuters

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