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Furcal's absence leaves status for opener in doubt

Furcal's absence leaves status for opener in doubt

JUPITER, Fla. -- Each day Rafael Furcal is not on the field puts in doubt whether the veteran will be ready for Opening Day.

Furcal aggravated a left hamstring strain on March 15, and he is doing limited baseball activities. The Marlins are hopeful that the 36-year-old will soon begin his running progression.

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With the opener March 31 against the Rockies at Marlins Park, it appears the club could be close to seeking other options at second base.

"We're all still hopeful he will be available for Opening Day," manager Mike Redmond said. "But we're not sure."

Derek Dietrich started at second base on Thursday against the Cardinals. Dietrich and Donovan Solano are the likely candidates to fill in if Furcal isn't ready.

"Really, it kind of depends on how his running goes over the next several days, to see if he will be available for Opening Day or not," Redmond said.

What is likely is Furcal will not play in any more Grapefruit League games. By playing from this point on forward in Minor League games, the veteran could be placed on the disabled list retroactive to March 21. In that scenario, he could return as early as April 5.

Furcal has appeared in seven Grapefruit League games, and he is 3-for-18.

"We definitely will have him play in some Minor League games when he starts playing in games, to make sure he is ready to go in a regular game," Redmond said. "We're still a few days away."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter Less