… unless he feels some sort of residual negative effect from the 45-pitch simulated game he pitched today, which was split into three “innings.” Rafael Furcal, Danny Ardoin, Andruw Jones and Mark Sweeney all took turns taking their cuts, and Kuroda looked good. .. As for Brad Penny, he is probably going to throw a similar simulated game (trying saying that three times quickly) sometime during the Houston series, although there still is a slim chance he could be sent on a minor-league rehab, something manager Joe Torre said he would rather not do. Guessing if the sim game goes well, Penny would come off the DL and return by the start of the next homestand a week from Monday if not sooner. … Update on bullpen coach Ken Howell, who is hospitalized: he is being administered antibiotics for a foot infection, which is believed to be diabetes-related. He will remain at University Hospital for now and will not make the Dodgers’ trip to Houston and San Francisco. Triple-A Las Vegas pitching coach Jim Slaton, who grew up in the Antelope Valley and informed me in spring training that his parents are avid Daily News readers, will fill in for Howell until he returns.