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Braves shortstop has surgery

Atlanta Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal, Tuesday underwent surgery to repair the damage incurred to his shoulder at HealthSouth Medical Center in Birmingham, and has since entered limited therapy, to return to full athleticism.

Furcal, the 2000 National League Rookie-of-the-Year had injured his shoulder a total of three times. During a Dominican league winter game, Furcal was benched for six months after a headfirst dive to steal injured his left shoulder, but during his recovery he was able to gain his strength back through weight training.

Again this season Furcal injured the same shoulder, and lost one week's game play - team doctors decided at that time to schedule Furcal for reparative surgery following the end of the season.

The final injury came a week ago in the game where the Braves defeated the Red Sox after 10 innings, by a score of 6-5.

In the ninth inning, Furcal had walked as the game was tied at 3-all. Stealing second base, Furcal came in to the base wrong, and it was at that time the injury occurred.

Furcal told reporters that he had "slid late", covering the whole base.

He arrived at HealthSouth in Birmingham on Monday to undergo a magnetic resonation imaging (MRI) exam to determine the extent of damage to his shoulder, which was completely dislocated at the time of the injury, and required immediate "reduction", or putting back in place, by Braves team doctors while still on the field.

Following the MRI, Dr. James Andrews confirmed that Braves team doctor Joe Chandler was correct in his original diagnosis of Furcal's injury when he called it a "complete dislocation."

Following the Tuesday afternoon surgery, Furcal was discharged on Wednesday and taken back to Atlanta, where he is said to be recovering well.

Furcal will have to start with limited physical therapy, and is expected to make a full recovery within six months.

A spokesman for the Braves, Tuesday during a press briefing at HealthSouth said Furcal should be "ready in plenty of time for spring training."

Furcal, who just this season was batting .275 with four homeruns and 30 RBIs was at the top of the list for stolen bases in the league, with 22.

Replacing the 20-year-old star on the roster will be Jesse Garcia, called back from Triple-A Richmond, where he hit .263 with one homerun, 17 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.

Garcia will not be the Braves' starting shortstop, but rather will be support behind starting shortstop Mark DeRosa, who is hitting .420 with six RBIs.