Casey Blake could start season on DL

Updated: March 18, 2011, 3:48 PM ET
By Tony Jackson | ESPNLosAngeles.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly allowed for the possibility Friday that third baseman Casey Blake might begin the season on the disabled list because of the inflammation in his lower-back/rib-cage area.

"Right now, Casey isn't on the field. ... I don't want to try to project it yet, but obviously, we are looking at other options in case he isn't going to be available Opening Day," Mattingly said.

Blake has been sidelined since Saturday, when his back tightened up after running to first base on a sacrifice bunt in a Cactus League game against the San Francisco Giants.

He underwent an MRI exam earlier this week that showed nothing more serious than inflammation, but the fact Blake still doesn't feel well enough to do any on-field activities -- coupled with the fact the season opener is now less than two weeks away -- means there is room for at least some doubt as to whether Blake will be ready.

Even before he got hurt, Blake had just one hit in 13 Cactus League at-bats, suggesting he still needs a handful of plate appearances in the spring to get his swing and timing ready for regular-season competition.

"He had been on a pretty good program," Mattingly said. "He had gotten some work in. But really, we're getting to a point in the spring where guys are starting to step up their innings, get more at-bats and really sort of fine-tune everything. Right now, Casey is still just running in the pool."

Blake tentatively planned to try to play catch on Friday, as well as run in the pool and on a treadmill. If he isn't ready to start the season, second baseman Juan Uribe will move to third -- where he has been getting considerable playing time in the past week -- and utility man Jamey Carroll will get the bulk of the starts at second until Blake returns.

Mattingly insisted Blake's prognosis hasn't worsened and went as far as saying it actually has improved since the MRI.

"Once we got the MRI ... it kind of gave us a little more optimism as far as what was going on," Mattingly said.

In other injury news, right-hander Vicente Padilla threw a 30-pitch bullpen session his first time on the mound since he underwent surgery on his pitching elbow Feb. 24.

While Padilla is progressing as planned, he likely will begin the season on the disabled list.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Tony Jackson

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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