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Scramble for infield backup spot as Casey Blake appears headed for disabled list to start season

Aaron-Miles_640 Looks like caution will rule the day. Hey, if your team creaks when it walks, sounds like a plan.

Don Mattingly said Monday that it appeared Casey Blake would likely start the season on the disabled list.

"We’re definitely moving in that direction," Mattingly said.

Blake has been out with a strained back/rib cage since March 12. He’s hit off a tee, but that’s been about it for actual baseball activity. Rushing back just to play in the March 31 opener would be silly, and Mattingly seems to know it.

Better to give him an extra week or two to make sure the back is sound than risk re-injury.

Blake's starting the season on the DL would open another roster spot for an infielder. In the nine days since Blake, 37, was injured, however, the competition has appeared to become only more muddled.

And that’s assuming Juan Uribe moves over to third and Jamey Carroll starts at second. Carroll has been nursing a bruised hand and missing time himself.

Without Blake, Aaron Miles appears to have the edge at the moment in securing the extra infield spot. He’s hitting .343 with a .629 slugging percentage.

But Ivan De Jesus Jr., who looked as if  he wasn’t going to get it going this spring, is making a late bid. Mattingly would prefer that he play every day, however, so unless they’re ready to start him at second and push Carroll back to his utility role, he still seems headed to triple-A.

Then there is the unexpected Hector Gimenez, who came to camp as a switch-hitting catcherbut has been playing first base, and Mattingly said Monday he would also get a look in the outfield. Gimenez is second on the team this spring in home runs (three) and runs batted in (seven).

Gimenez, like outfielder Xavier Paul, is out of options and the Dodgers would risk losing him if they send him back down.

Plus, Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames can play some first if the Dodgers wanted to spell James Loney. So many options, if none exactly thrilling.

The Dodgers also have light-hitting infielders Juan Castro and Eugenio Velez. Ten days until the season opener, and this one could go to the end of spring training.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Aaron Miles. Credit: Jake Roth / US Presswire

Comments () | Archives (25)

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This team looks soooooooo pathetic. 3rd place is a pipe dream.

That's the risk of a 37 year old. And options for another infielder on the roster are rarely too exciting.

When you reach the point that "you're out of options if sent back down" then certainly the risk is minimal if at all.

Paul, age 26, played in the majors two years ago, still not ready? Time to cut bait.

I was hopeful when he was a kid, knowing as he and everyone else did that the LF job was his for the taking when Manny's two-year run was done. He should have been busting in for the end of last season and been penciled in during this past offseason.

Gimenez, age 28. Either you want him or you don't. Cut bait.

The problem with Flanders' approach of taking a flyer on so many marginals is there is a reason they are marginals. Get a plan, youth or veteran or mix, and go with it. To heck with offseason signing of multiple players for a need and figuring "well, a couple of them will step forward in spring training and narrow it down for us so we can move forward."

Know the real players, sign 'em and play 'em.

What a mess this organization has become. The big news is that an aging 3rd baseman is injured from running out a bunt, I repeat, running out a bunt ? and won't play opening day, who cares?. What a joke. This what happens when someone buys something they cannot afford, McCourt, or should I say Malibu. Anyone that pays to watch this mess is just feeding his lifestyle.

1987 Redux. It's only March 22. The season hasn't even started. This is so depressing.

Wow, another highly intriguing story in the 2011 Dodgers quest for mediocrity!! Why not just give the kids a chance to play? Nothin to lose. If Mattingly wants DeJesus Jr. to play every day then give him the starting 2nd base job.

"Malibu" McCourt. It does have a certain ring, doesn't it?

Ned should have signed Eric Chavez when he had a chance. Perhap he can trade that slug Broxton for him.

I love when veteran journeymen come into Dodger camp, go nuts, have a great spring, make the team and then revert back to their lifelong numbers. Can't a good GM see through that?

Easy. I fully agree with alan19. Keep DeJesus and Aaron Miles; they're real players. Miles is a proven major leaguer who's not over the hill. He's also a decent hitter. DeJesus will get plenty of at bats during the course of the season. If not, send him down in May or June. Gimenez, Paul, Velez and Castro are not viable options. Once Gimenez sees real, serious pitching, he'll revert. Like alan19 said, Paul has had many chances and has never made the most of them, like Woods with the Angels. Castro and Velez simply can't hit, and we don't need any more holes in the lineup or on the bench than we already have. Like I said, Ned: easy. No charge, Frankie.

P.S. I just checked out the 1987 Dodgers roster, Bluein AZ, and some of those "losers" had great years in '88. Of course, a guy named Gibson fell into Fred Claire's lap to help things, and the rest is history. Yeah, ANCIENT history, by now.

TJ Simers is a douche bag. The piece on Thames was purely spiteful and vindictive.

Typical stupid Dodger decisions. They'll keep Thames, and he'll be this year's Garret Anderson.

You can win championships with the likes of the '88 Dodgers and the '10 Giants if you have a Lasorda or a Bochy to pull it together. Donnie is going to make Durocher an honest man.


I agree that it was a masterful managerial job that Lasorda did in bringing that '88 club together. But I also think it takes more than that to make it all work. Wasn't it the same Lasorda managing in '87 and '86? I like Donnie. I think he's going to be good. And maybe I'm wrong about this year's team. I hope so. But...

Let's give Donnie B. a chance. Stop praising that blowhard Lasorda.

This organization stinks, McCrap stinks, No Head Ned stinks, this team stinks, this pile of bargain bin losers stink, Donnie Dumball will stink. Did I mention they all stink?

Just so we're clear, how would you describe the Dodgers this year, KoufaxFan?

I'd say the Dodgers are well covered, in the absence of Blake. There are plenty of body's to go around. Blake should take it easy and let nature take it's course.
Carroll's a tough cookie but he better wait for that finger to heal and learn not to put it around the bat when he bunts.

I can't believe people still can't take the truth from T.J.
Thames is a stiff, pure and simple.
T.J.'s just telling it like it is.
Oh yeah, and Lasorda did just about as much as I did to help the Dodgers win that last pennant nearly a quarter of a century ago.
Hate T.J. Love Lasorda. What a group.

Mattingly trying out everyone on the roster in left says left is not much better or clearer than it was on Feb 27. At this point, how can Who's In Left not continue well into April? When no one is standing out like this, April becomes March's record. Mattingly's lineup says the beginning of the season is extended spring training, a work-in-progress, with no clear answers, just like Ned's winter bargain basement grab bagging told us it would.

iow so far no good, it's as bad as we thought it would be. We may find out how deep into spring [June 20] spring training can go.

Agreed, not a fan of his, but TJ speaks the truth this time.

And by the way, Tems/Tims is a mere 203 HR behind my all-time fave, Ron Cey.

Agreed that Lasorda has become a grumpy old coot but as Dodger manager for 20 years he won two World Series championships and four National League pennants while achieving a .526 winning percentage in 3000 games, elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot and managed the USA baseball team to a Gold medal in the olympics. Since no Dodger manager since has won a National League pennant or a World Series while all the other teams in the NL West have...he appears on paper to be a cut above Donnie (so far). We shall see soon enough.

It's strange if there are two guys i agree with on this post more than anyone it's almost always gonna be Alan19 and since'58; then TJ Simers gets involved. He's the Geraldo of sports journalism. Thames will do what he does every year, crush lefties. He won't be playing enough for his defense to negate that posotive. I almost never agree with Skyharbor and yet his rebut is one of the best ever. '81 was ring that the entire organization won but Lasorda deserves alot more credit for88'. The way he juggled the bench and how he pulled the strings on the pitching staff was pretty remarkable. His ability to get the guys to believe they could beat the far more talented Mets and A's in oct. is something that can only be debated, never measured. I don't think we win in '88 with any other manager.

I'd hate to lose X. Paul without him getting a shot, I'd prefer Thames, Gibbons or Gwynn stay down and give Paul a steady shot at left field.


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