Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake to have neck surgery
Casey Blake, the straight-shooting, hard-working, likable third baseman, has decided to call it a season. And perhaps a career?
Blake finally succumbed to the neck injury that has plagued him for the last two months and will have surgery next week, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said Thursday.
It's been a rough season for Blake, 38, who has spent different three stints on the disabled list.
The pinched nerve in his neck, however, has easily been the most serious and difficult issue for the nine-year veteran. Despite rest and rehab, it continued to flare.
He told The Times' Dylan Hernandez 12 days ago: "Obviously, this neck thing is pretty serious. I want to be able to move my neck when I'm 50."
The neck injury was not only nagging, but potentially threatening to his long-term health. Said Blake to Hernandez: "The more I play, the more chance I have to really put more pressure on that nerve. If you put enough pressure on it, you bang it enough, you can cause some damage."
It was at that point that I suggested Blake call it a season, but forever prideful and not wanting to walk away from his injury-riddled season, he battled on. He started Wednesday against the Padres and went 1-for-4 with a double.
On the season, he is hitting .254 with four homers and 26 RBIs in 202 at-bats. Not at his standard performance, but he was still an effective hitter on a team in dire need of them.
But a sudden motion reaching for a hard-hit bouncer or a wrong turn in the batter's box, and the neck would fire up again.
Blake was patient with the injury, tried to play through it, tried everything anyone could think of -– shy of surgery -– and it just would not respond.
He is in the last year of a three-year, $17.5-million contract, the team owning a $6-million option for next season with a $1.25 million buyout -- which the Dodgers are almost certain to exercise now.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Casey Blake. Credit: Jesse Johnson / U.S Presswire.