Furcal off to slow start due to sore elbow
After his first week in camp, St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal still isn't throwing at full strength.
He continues to be bothered by a bone spur in his right elbow, not necessarily a residue of the torn elbow ligament he suffered last Aug. 30 that ended his season. Furcal is expected to miss the first week or more of exhibition games, at least in the field.
"I prefer to miss 10 or 15 games here in spring and not miss the first game of the season or more when it's time to start," Furcal said. "I want to play, but I have to be smart."
After having his elbow "pop" in August, Furcal chose rest and a strengthening program designed to rehab his elbow instead of surgery.
He has been receiving anti-inflammatory treatment for irritation in the elbow, but a more aggressive treatment will be considered if the soreness doesn't abate.
For the moment, Pete Kozma, impressive late last season and in the playoffs, and free agent acquisition Ronny Cedeno will get most of the time at shortstop.
Manager Mike Matheny explained why Furcal, 35, won't be playing in the field for a while, though he could serve as a designated hitter.
"It's going to be hard to put him out there in a situation where (he has) a backhand (play) deep in the hole. He's not ready for that," Matheny said. "He's been on that program and he's progressing, but the program hasn't progressed to a point of letting it go. Part of that is the physical side, and the other part is the mental side where you're just a little afraid to let it go."
Furcal said, "You're afraid a little bit -- until your mind gets straight and it trusts your body that (the injury) can't happen again and you can just go."
After Furcal felt discomfort hitting left-handed, the switch hitter was told to hit only right-handed until the elbow improved.
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