Rafael Furcal Perseveres Through Struggles
Dodgers’ shortstop Rafael Furcal had a week for the ages batting .538 (14-for-26) with nine runs scored and 24 total bases from June 28 to July 4, 2010. With a week like that Major League Baseball named Furcal the Bank of America Presents the National League Player of the Week Tuesday morning taking Furcal by surprise.
“It’s very special,” Furcal said. “It took me by surprise. Somebody told me, but I didn’t believe them.”
Dodgers’ manager Joe Torre was happy for Furcal.
“I’m happy for him,” Torre said. “He’s such a major part of what we do because of the energy he gives us at the top of the order.”
And Furcal had some big obstacles to overcome this season. Placed on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring on April 28, he missed 24 games after starting the season batting .309 with two triples and eight stolen bases. He came back on May 25 and for the next three weeks seemed to have not missed a beat batting just over .300 in that span. However throughout that period he had a heavy heart knowing his father and former hitting coach Silvino was hospitalized in the Dominican Republic after getting hit in the chest by a horse.
“The month he was in the hospital, I promise you I didn’t have a lot of concentration,” Furcal admitted. “I didn’t know how he was feeling.”
Furcal’s wife Glenny had gone back to the Dominican Republic to be with his father putting his mind at ease a little.
“I’m glad my wife went over there and sit down with the doctor,” Furcal said. However the news wasn’t all good.
“He told her he didn’t have a good chance of staying alive,” Furcal said. “That made me a little crazy thinking of him because I love my dad with my life. He was always with me, he took care of everyone in my family.”
After complications from a surgery, Furcal left the Dodgers on June 17 in Cincinnati and went to be with his father. On June 20, Silvino succumbed to his injuries.
While he has dedicated the remainder of the season to his father, when he gets between the lines he tries to put it out of his mind.
“I put a lot of concentration and try to forget when I’m here at the ballpark,” Furcal said. “You cannot play ball when you’re thinking about him. There’s nothing I can do right now.”
While his father was alive, he would call Furcal nightly with hitting tips after staying up late to watch his son play on satellite television.
“We were in touch almost every day. He called me when he saw me hitting with a black bat. He was so mad at me because he liked to see me hit with a white bat.
“When he saw me hitting a little straightened up too much, he would call me the next day and tell me, ‘I don’t like the way you’re hitting right now. I like when you get down more and play your game.’”
Furcal returned to the team on June 23, and since then has poured his heart into hurting the ball batting .431 with an on-base percentage of .474 and slugging percentage of .725 with 3 homers, a triple and 12 RBI. He has also scored a run in 11 straight games which ties Shawn Green in 2002 and Davey Lopes in 1979. A run tonight will tie him with Gil Hodges from June 2 to June 14, 1953.
“I feel pretty good,” Furcal said.