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DODGERS NOTEBOOK: JORDAN TAKES KNEE PAIN `DAY BY DAY'.

Byline: Jill Painter Staff Writer

Brian Jordan doesn't know when he'll play again, though he knows it's not likely to be this weekend.

Jordan is out with a strained patellar tendon in his surgically repaired left knee, an injury he suffered trying to run out a single Tuesday in San Francisco. Jordan hopes to be back soon but he wouldn't rule out a stint on the disabled list. He wouldn't rule out surgery, either.

Then again, he said he could test the knee today.

Amid all these unknowns, Jordan knows at least one thing: ``It hurts, that's the bottom line.''

Jordan is taking anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the swelling in his knee. Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said Jordan was available only as an emergency pinch-hitter Friday.

But with an off day Monday, Jordan might not return until Tuesday. Jordan isn't sure when he'll be back.

``I don't know, I'll just take it day by day,'' he said.

When Jordan began spring training, he was still recovering from his offseason knee surgery. Jordan, a former NFL player, always has battled injuries and played through pain.

Jordan doesn't want to delay a decision if he has to go on the disabled list, denying the opportunity for the Dodgers to recall another player.

Perhaps Jordan will be even more cautious because of what happened to Angels designated hitter Brad Fullmer on Thursday. He ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee after he landed awkwardly at first base and is out for the season.

Fullmer, a Montclair Prep of Panorama City product, battled tendinitis in his right knee before.

``That didn't help,'' Jordan said. ``He was trying to beat that ball out. That could've easily happened to me. I'm kind of fortunate it didn't happen the way his happened. That made me nervous.''

Jordan wants to avoid surgery, but if he can't, he wants to get it done right away.

``I hope not because that would ruin my whole winter,'' Jordan said. ``I don't want to wait too long if it does require surgery. I don't want to do the same thing (rehabilitating) coming into the season. I hope it doesn't come to that.''

Mike Kinkade, Jolbert Cabrera and Paul Lo Duca are the likely candidates to rotate playing in left field in Jordan's absence.

Cabrera played in left Friday and Lo Duca is likely to play one game in left this series. David Ross has proved to be an adept backup catcher.

Tracy said his decision on a left fielder has more to do with pitching matchups than anything else.

--Trade, what trade? Some players don't believe a trade for a more potent bat in the middle of the order is necessary.

The Dodgers are looking at several options to boost their offense, and Florida third baseman Mike Lowell tops their wish list.

``The best trade we can make is to start hitting,'' Cabrera said.

But it's nearly July and the Dodgers still are struggling offensively, with a .247 team batting average, second-to-last in the National League.

``We have almost 50 wins and we really haven't hit,'' Cabrera said. ``If some of the people who are having bad years turn those into average years, we'll win more. We've come this far and we haven't hit that good. I don't see why we have to make a trade.''

--McGriff update: Fred McGriff returned to batting practice and took grounders Friday. McGriff, who is on the disabled list for the first time in his career with a strained groin, could be activated as early as Sunday.

``I can feel it getting a little better,'' McGriff said.

--Happy birthday: Daryle Ward turned 28 Friday. Ward celebrated by having a barbecue with family and friends on the Dodgers' day off Thursday.

Jill Painter, (818) 713-3615

Jill.Painter(at)dailynews.com

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DODGERS vs. ANGELS

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 28, 2003
Words:643
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