When the Miami Marlins signed Rafael Furcal to be the starting second baseman, it was expected that he would be in the lineup on a daily basis. Furcal opened the season on the disabled list after straining his left hamstring, but began his rehab assignment with Class A Jupiter on Monday night.
Furcal will have to see action continually for three weeks before the Marlins consider taking him off the disabled list.
"The plan is for him to hopefully play every day," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We hope he continues to feel good. He will be there all week."
After a week at Jupiter, the club is considering sending the 36-year-old to Double-A Jacksonville next week.
With back spasms troubling Derek Dietrich, Furcal's return to baseball operations couldn't have come at a better time. Dietrich, though, was in the lineup on Monday night, and is batting .313. He has been flexible in where he hits in the lineup-he has appeared most often in the two spot but has also batted sixth or seventh.
The fact that the Marlins saw several lefties to open the year led to Jeff Baker seeing more playing time, and Dietrich doesn't have a hit in three appearances against left-handed pitchers this year.
Furcal batted .264 with the Cardinals in 2012 before missing last season with Tommy John surgery. He is projected to bat .263 with a .328 on-base percentage in 2014.
A player is only given 20 rehab-assignment days, and if Furcal were to use all of those, he would make his first appearance on May 6 against the Mets at Marlins Park.
Given Miami's current offensive struggles, Furcal's bat will not be a savior. Christian Yelich has been efficient in the leadoff spot, but Furcal's versatility and speed could prove to be valuable.
Manager Mike Redmond and the rest of the organization will have to decide whose roster spot Furcal would take. Considering Dietrich's success against right handers, Donovan Solano is the obvious choice. The Marlins wouldn't have a purpose to carry three second baseman on the roster, and such a decision isn't entirely Solano's fault when the lack of playing time is considered.
Having Furcal back will give the Marlins another veteran presence and an established leadoff man, which could help an inconsistent offense.