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Daily Dodger in review: The long goodbye to Rafael Furcal

October 26, 2011 |  2:50 pm

Furcal1
RAFAEL FURCAL
, 34, shortstop

Final 2011 stats: .197, one home run, 12 RBI, 15 runs, five stolen bases in eight attempts, .272 on-base percentage, .248 slugging percentage in 137 at-bats with the Dodgers.

Contract status: Traded to Cardinals, looming free agent.

The good: Well, he is playing in the World Series. The Cardinals like him and he likes them so much, he’s willing to return. Alas, his time this season with the Dodgers was just shy of disastrous.

He just never could get healthy. He was well-liked by just about everyone on the club, though, after spending most of the last six years with the Dodgers. Overall, he was actually one of the best shortstops in L.A. Dodgers history.

The bad: Furcal did not suffer much luck his final season in Los Angeles. In something of a freak accident, he broke his thumb sliding head-first into third base on April 11 in San Francisco. He was so distraught at the thought of another injury, he briefly talked of retiring.

He came back, but only to suffer an oblique injury and head back to the DL again. He headed to St. Louis at the July 31 trade deadline with easily the worst stats of his career.

What’s next: Furcal is talking like he wants to keep playing. When healthy, he is still a solid to very good shortstop. The problem is, keeping him healthy. In only three of his six seasons with the Dodgers, did he get a least 450 at-bats.

The take: Buoyed by his postseason run, look for Furcal to return somewhere next season. Probably in St. Louis, possibly in Los Angeles, though that is seriously remote. The Dodgers seem to have gone all in with rookie Dee Gordon.

Furcal just turned 34 on Monday, so it’s not like he can’t keep it going, if healthy. I know, everything with him is, if healthy. He could be headed for second base or a utility role, but there figure to be enough teams hurting that he could yet return at shortstop.

When he was at his best in Los Angeles, he was a difference-maker. A leadoff hitter, plenty of speed, good range, a cannon arm, some power and a terrific presence in the clubhouse.

If his career as a Dodger did not turn out completely as some may have hoped, on the whole, it was a career to relish.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal singles against the Washington Nationals on July 24. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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