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Furcal slowed by bone spur in ailing right elbow

JUPITER, Fla. -- Rafael Furcal refrained from swinging left-handed or throwing with much effort on Thursday under the directive of the Cardinals, who have encouraged Furcal to be cautious with his ailing right elbow.

"It still hurts," Furcal said of his elbow. Asked the degree to which it hurt, Furcal answered, "A lot."

Furcal suffered a partially torn ligament in his right elbow last August and missed the rest of the season as a result. The biggest issue now, though, is a bone spur in the elbow. Furcal has taken anti-inflammatory pills to try and diffuse some of the pain. To this point, he has not had a cortisone injection, though he hasn't ruled out the possibility of needing one at a later point.

"I can throw maybe 30-, 40-, 50-percent all day long," Furcal said. "I'm ready to play, but in my mind, I don't want to be playing shortstop and they [hit] me one ball and then I try to push it so hard and then it hurts."

The switch-hitting Furcal said his elbow felt "a little tight" on Thursday morning, one day after taking several swings from both sides of the plate. Furcal took a few cuts from the right side during batting practice Thursday. He did not participate in live batting practice against Lance Lynn with the rest of his group.

Furcal continues to be a regular participant in fielding drills, and that was no different on Thursday. He does not, though, follow the lead of the other infielders and throw across the field at max effort.

The Cardinals do not intend to play Furcal in the team's first few Grapefruit Leagues. When he does get involved, it will likely be as a designated hitter. That will give Furcal the opportunity to track live pitching without leaving him susceptible to straining his elbow while playing on defense.

"I want to keep doing [work] because I don't want to sit down and wait for [the elbow] to get better," Furcal said. "I want to go to the field and keep doing my stuff, take a lot of groundballs, move my feet. I don't want to sit down."

The Cardinals continue to maintain that Furcal should be ready for Opening Day, though the bone spur issue is one that had been unanticipated coming into Spring Training.