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Casey Blake expected to be out at least six weeks

April 29, 2011 |  7:36 pm

Lk2zkxnc Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday and is expected to be out for at least six weeks after undergoing surgery Thursday morning for a staph infection on his left elbow, Dodgers team trainer Stan Conte said. 

The Dodgers called up infielder Russell Mitchell from triple-A Albuquerque and Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said Juan Uribe will be his primary third baseman.

Blake is scheduled to be released from the hospital Saturday, and his arm will be in a sling for up to 10 days, Mattingly said, adding he wants Blake to be around the team as soon as that is possible. 

Said Conte: "He’s got an incision on the back of his elbow that we have to take very good care of because that’s still open to the outside world, so he won’t be able to do anything for about 10 days.

"So after that," Conte said, "if everything is going well and there’s no recurrence of the infection, etc., then we’ll start moving him along. I think the magic number that we’re throwing out here is six weeks to return to the major leagues." 

Conte said they're still not sure how the infection came about. 

"Everyone is racking their brain on why this happened," Conte said. "The only theory we have is that he did bump his elbow at some point, he didn't recall it, it caused some swelling and the swelling became infected very, very quickly. 

"He has had a history -- five, six, seven years ago -- of having olecranon bursitis, but it wasn't infected, so I don't know if this is somehow related to that," Conte added. "We don't know." 

Conte said the infection was first spotted early this week in Miami, where the Dodgers were playing the Florida Marlins. He said they noticed it Monday and gave Blake antibiotics and monitored him.

That night Blake had fevers and chills and came to the ballpark the next day with his elbow grossly swollen to the size of a "big squash," Conte said. Blake was taken to a nearby hospital and doctors there drained his elbow and put him on more antibiotics.

Early Wednesday morning at about 3 a.m., Conte said, Blake again woke with a high fever and was taken to the hospital. They worried about whether he would be well enough to fly home, but after some consultation with medical experts, they decided they needed to get Blake to L.A. as soon as possible.

Blake was returned to L.A. and then taken to USC University Hospital, where a one-hour surgery was performed Thursday by team surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who, according to Conte, "cleaned out the whole infection."

"It did not spread and that's one of the things we were concerned about," Conte said, "and that's why Dr. ElAttrache acted fairly quickly in taking him to the operating room."

Conte said the one thing they're glad about is that the infection wasn't a MRSA infection, which is resistant to most antibiotics and can be very difficult to treat. 

They came to that conclusion Friday morning after medical experts took some fluid from the infection, placed it in a petri dish, grew it in stages and then attempted to treat it with various antibiotics. 

Is that kind of infection contagious? 

"Yes and no," Conte said. "He has to have some kind of direct contact into another open wound, and you know every training room and every locker room is a great breeding environment for this stuff."

-- Baxter Holmes 

Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake (23) gets a base hit against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Wrigley Field on April 22, 2011. Credit: Rob Grabowski / US Presswire