Casey Blake approaching latest fork in his career
He’ll be 38 this month, has had three trips on the disabled list this season and is on his last legs?
He’s the ultimate gamer, a terrific teammate and still has plenty left?
He’s going to play just well enough this month to get himself traded before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline?
This is a curious time for Blake, the veteran third baseman who is not the least interested in calling it a career. And has no desire in going out on some injury-riddled, less-than-fulfilling season.
The best scenario for Blake would seem to be showing he’s healthy and then getting sent to a contender before the next trading deadline.
The way things are going with the bankrupt Dodgers, there seems no chance they’ll pick up their $6-million option on him for next season. He has a $1.25-million buyout.
Only Blake is not about to embrace moving on, at least not publicly, when so much is uncertain.
"I’m not going to worry about trades, or this or that. If it happens, it happens. It’s out of my control."
So for now Blake tries to get healthy, which is proving an ongoing battle. His most recent injury was a cervical strain, which still flares up with certain throws or swings.
Blake has appeared in only 54 of the Dodgers’ first 117 games. He’s batting .257, with a .353 on-base percentage and a .377 slugging percentage. Decent stuff considering he’s missed more games than he’s played, but not in the neighborhood Blake prefers.
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly is convinced Blake can still be a force, if he can get over the injury bug. Though when you’re nearing 38, it can prove a resilient bug.
"I think the best thing for Casey is to go out and show he’s healthy," Mattingly said. "Swing the bat well and play the game. Casey is a valuable guy. He’s a guy that really knows how to play and can do a lot of things.
"He can play third, he can play first, the outfield corners. And if you had to, you could throw him at second and short at the end of the game. He really has a lot of different roles he can play. He’s a guy who gives you a good at-bat, he’s a great teammate, he can bunt. He knows how to play. He’s a winning type player, and people know that already."
The Dodgers have no apparent prospect ready to claim third base should Blake either be traded later this month or not have his option picked up. The disappointing Juan Uribe was signed to play second, but has spent most of the season at third. And he’s signed for another two years.
Blake -- born, bred and still living in Iowa -- knows other teams may be watching, but battles on, the proverbial one game at a time.
"Really, I try not to worry about what’s going to happen or what may happen," Blake said. "If I take care of business right now, things will fall into place or happen the way you want them to happen."
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Casey Blake. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times