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Dodgers' Casey Blake remains out of lineup as opening day nears

With the veteran injured, Juan Uribe starts again at third base. Manager Don Mattingly says L.A. is preparing itself for possibility Blake will be unavailable for the opener.

March 18, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake hasn't played since March 12 because of inflammation in the middle of his spine.
Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake hasn't played since March 12 because… (Christopher Hanewinckel…)

Reporting from Phoenix — When the Dodgers' team bus departed from Camelback Ranch on Friday, Casey Blake stayed behind.

With the third baseman's absence from the lineup nearing a week in duration, Manager Don Mattingly acknowledged that Blake could be on the disabled list on opening day.

Mattingly, ever the diplomat, refused to speculate on the likelihood Blake would be unavailable when the Dodgers host the San Francisco Giants on March 31, but said they were preparing themselves for that possibility.

"It's hard to get too far down the line when he's not swinging the bat yet, not taking ground balls or anything," Mattingly said of Blake, who has been out since exiting a game on March 12 because of inflammation in the middle of his spine.

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Juan Uribe, who was expected to be the regular-second baseman, started at third base in the Dodgers' 6-3 victory over the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium on Friday. The game was Uribe's fourth at third base in the last week.

Blake, 37, said he doesn't want to miss any games.

"I want to play opening day," said Blake, who ran in a pool, played catch and hit off a tee Friday.

Blake said he would have to get some at-bats to prepare for regular-season games. The spring has been a tough one so far; he is hitting .077. Last year he batted .248.

"I would need three, four, five days in a row," Blake said. "I'm going to make sure I'm ready. I'm going to make sure I can help the team."

Only 12 days remain in the exhibition season.

Blake isn't the only infielder recovering from an injury.

Matt Kemp's spring shapes up

Jamey Carroll, who would presumably play second base if Uribe moves to third, has a bruised hand and feels discomfort when throwing. He was the designated hitter in a Class-A game Friday and was one for three with two walks.

The Dodgers have no plans to pursue free-agent second baseman Luis Castillo, who was released by the New York Mets.

Familiar faces

The game in Scottsdale marked a homecoming of sorts for Uribe, one of the heroes of the Giants' World Series run.

Even though Uribe was wearing the uniform of the Giants' hated rivals, he received more cheers than boos when introduced for his first at-bat.

"That's what you want," Uribe said.

Uribe said he wasn't nervous heading into the game, noting that he's had previous experience changing teams. The Dodgers are his fourth major league club.

Uribe was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, dropping his spring average to .214.

Uribe said that if he had to move to third base, that won't be a problem.

"When you play shortstop," he said, "you can play whatever position."

Padilla throws

Vicente Padilla is recovering from minor arm surgery as quickly as anticipated. He threw about 30 pitches off a mound. Padilla is three weeks removed from his operation.

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