Rafael Furcal empties his locker, but there is no goodbye
The locker was empty, save for a lone bat, a pair of sandals and two bottles of lotion. The nameplate above the cubicle had been removed.
Rafael Furcal was gone into the night.
Gone without a goodbye, gone without any explanation, not that any had to be given.
Furcal has reportedly accepted a trade to the St. Louis Cardinals. The 33-year-old, who had been the Dodgers' primary shortstop for the last six years, packed up and left during the Dodgers’ game Saturday night against the Diamondbacks without a final farewell to teammates.
He had been coy with reporters before the game, not saying whether as a player with 10 years of major league service, including five with the same team, he would approve a trade. He did promise, if jokingly, to talk to the media after the game.
But an emotional man, he elected to avoid the goodbyes and by the middle of the game had carried his bag out of the clubhouse and left Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers career of Furcal was over.
"He’s definitely going to be missed," said Matt Kemp. "He was one of my favorite teammates.
"He played the game the right way. When he was healthy, he was dangerous."
The catch with Furcal, of course, was his being healthy. When he was he was a true catalyst, a leadoff hitter who made the Dodgers go. A terrific all-around player.
Staying healthy became a constant battle. Over the last five seasons he averaged only 116 games. This year he has spent two long stints on the disabled list and at one point was so frustrated he talked of retiring.
He hit only .197 in the 37 games he has played this season though in the last week he appeared more like his old self, going eight for 22 with a pair of steals.
"I hate to see him go," said Casey Blake. "He’s been a real teammate. Hopefully this works for him and us. I wish him the best. I know he’s going to a real good team over there, a bunch of professionals and some real good teammates. I know they have a lot of fun over there and he’ll fit right in."
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Rafael Furcal during a game against the Rockies in early June at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times