… but before we get to that, let me say I am seriously considering putting Matt Holliday’s name in the No. 1 spot on my National League MVP ballot. It has to have 10 names, ranked 1 through 10, with each vote counting in inverse order, i.e., a first-place vote counts for 10 points, a 10th-place vote for one point. I know the Rockies probably aren’t going to the playoffs, but this guy is having an incredible season — and an incredible series so far (7 for 11, 3 HRs, a double and six RBI). He has 2 HR’s already tonight and drove Juan Pierre to the wall in dead center in this third AB. He leads the league in hitting, has 35 HRs, leads the league in RBI, leads the league in hits (204), leads the league in total bases (367), leads the league in doubles (48), leads the league in extra-base hits (86) and is hitting a league-best .384 in day games. Sounds like an MVP to me. … Dodgers just tied the game on a bases-loaded single by Brad Penny and still have the bases jammed with nobody out. Jeremy Affeldt coming on now for the Rox. … Ddogers 4, Rockies 4, top 6
By Tony Jackson
DENVER — Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal was still unavailable on Wednesday night because of lower back tightness. But club officials said he was feeling better than he was on Tuesday, when the problem knocked him out of the first game of a doubleheader after six innings and prevented him from playing at all in the nightcap.
The issue was still preventing Furcal from swinging a bat, a fact that probably makes it highly unlikely he will play in this afternoon’s series finale at Colorado even though no one was willing to say that.
“It doesn’t seem to be real serious,” Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said. “But he still doesn’t have full motion, and he still isn’t able to make all the movements he needs to, especially swinging. So we’ll hold him out until he is ready to do stuff like that.”
With the Dodgers apparently on the brink of elimination from the playoff hunt — they went into the evening with a magic number of eight to be knocked out of the wild card — there is a remote possibility Furcal has played his final game. Furcal suffered a severely sprained ankle in a collision with outfielder Jason Repko during the next-to-last week of spring training that still hasn’t fully healed and probably won’t until he can rest it for several weeks.
Thus, even if Furcal is able to return from the back injury, the question will have to be asked at that time whether there is a reason for him to do so — especially if it happens during what figures to be a meaningless, season-ending series with last-place San Francisco.
But Conte seemed to dismiss that idea.
“If we’re unfortunate enough to not be playing in meaningful games, then we have about 10 guys who could benefit from (sitting out),” Conte said.
Still his: The Dodgers have used seven different starting third basemen this season, and not one of them has started more than 40 games at the position. Manager Grady Little said he hopes to leave spring training next year with one primary third baseman, adding that the position still belongs for now to veteran Nomar Garciaparra.
Garciaparra, who is signed through next season, has hit .381 this year with runners in scoring position, but just .246 in all other situations. Tony Abreu, who started at short in place of Furcal on Wednesday, and Andy LaRoche are among the organization’s brightest prospects, but until one of them takes it away, Garciaparra is still the guy.
“As of now, Nomar would have to be the incumbent,” Little said. “He has had a tough season this year, but hopefully, he can get it turned around.”
Abreu and LaRoche, each of whom is in his first big-league season, also have struggled. Abreu is hitting .267. LaRoche is batting .193 and has struck out 15 times in 57 at-bats.
Not sure: Bill Mueller reluctantly accepted the Dodgers’ hitting coach job on an interim basis, stepping down from his spot as a special assistant to general manager Ned Colletti, after Eddie Murray was fired on June 14. Two weeks later, Mueller reluctantly accepted the job for the rest of the season.
Now, as that season winds to a close, Mueller isn’t sure whether he wants to keep the job beyond this season.
“I have to talk to Grady and Ned,” Mueller said. “It’s not my decision, and I don’t know what their decision is, and I don’t want to get into that during the season. It’s a non-issue. All that matters right now is preparing for a game each day.”
Mueller did say he has found a comfort level in the job, but he wouldn’t go as far as saying that comfort level has given him renewed interest in keeping the position. It is believed Mueller would simply return to the front office if he didn’t remain as hitting coach.
“Having a routine has made it a little easier for me,” Mueller said. “I think people function better with routines, but for me, it took a little while to find one.”