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Furcal may begin season on disabled list

Veteran infielder working way back from strained left hamstring

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Being ready for Opening Day is the goal, but staying healthy over the long haul is Rafael Furcal's objective.

So if the 36-year-old doesn't feel physically ready, he would welcome a short disabled-list stint as opposed to risking a long-term injury.

Furcal on Monday morning saw game action as a designated hitter in a Marlins' Minor League game on a back field at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.

Opening Day is a week away, and Furcal is taking steps to get his strained left hamstring ready.

It's appearing more likely that Furcal, who has 18 Grapefruit League at-bats, will open the season on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 21. In that scenario, he would be eligible to return as early as April 5.

"I don't want to play one day and take five days [off]," Furcal said. "They know. Everybody knows. We have a lot of good guys who can start. But I don't want to be on the field and not be able to do something because of my hamstring. No excuse.

"I prefer to lose a couple of days and not lose a month or 15-20 days. Now that we're at the end of Spring Training, you have to take it for what it is. If I can't go, they've got to put in somebody else."

Derek Dietrich, Donovan Solano and Ed Lucas are second-base options if Furcal isn't ready for the March 31 opener against the Rockies at Marlins Park.

"Make sure I'm 100 percent," Furcal said.

The veteran has not ruled out being ready for Opening Day. But it will depend on how he feels.

"I'm interested to watch and just see how he moves," manager Mike Redmond said. "We've got to see him extend out, and be able to run, and turn it loose. That's what we're looking for."

Monday was not ideal to test his legs sprinting, because Furcal was playing through a steady drizzle.

He wasn't pushing it on the bases.

Defensively, he has been taking ground balls. And he's been hitting in the batting cages. So he doesn't feel he is playing catch-up in those two areas.

It's about having that burst of speed running.

"I want to be healthy. I'm hungry to play," Furcal said. "That way is the only way I can help the team. That's the only way I can help the team, play every day. I want to be on the field every day."

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

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