Casey Blake eyes Wednesday return
LOS ANGELES -- With no more minor league spring-training games for him to play in, Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake arrived at Dodger Stadium for the first time on Sunday and pronounced himself, and his back, ready for the season. Not only that, but Blake also stated his strong preference for coming off the 15-day disabled list as soon as he becomes eligible on Wednesday at Colorado rather than waiting until the start of a three-game series at San Diego on Friday night, something manager Don Mattingly had said earlier was the target date for activating Blake because the Dodgers are off on Thursday.
"If I'm going to stay with the team, I would like to play as soon as I can, which is the sixth," said Blake, who plans to be on the team charter when it departs for Denver on Monday. "But I don't make that call. I don't want to sit around not facing any live pitching for any more days than I have to."
Told of Blake's stance, Mattingly seemed at least open to the possibility of moving things up a couple of days -- especially when someone informed Mattingly that Blake has solid career numbers against Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel, who will now start against the Dodgers on Wednesday after the Rockies' game with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday was snowed out.
"Obviously, guys see (certain pitchers) good for a reason, and they hit them good," Mattingly said. "We don't know why, but they just hit them good. They have success against them, and that gives them confidence, and confidence breeds success. I'll look at all the factors, but I can't tell you (what the decision will be)."
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Dodgers infielder Juan Uribe felt well enough to return to the starting lineup on Sunday night against the San Francisco Giants despite some lingering soreness in his right elbow after missing the previous two games because of swelling there. Uribe was hit by a pitch in Thursday's season opener.
"He is ready to roll," Mattingly said. "I could tell (Saturday). I knew he could pinch hit and that if we got into a weird game, he could play if he had to. I pretty much knew he could go (Sunday). It was just matter of getting the swelling out of there."
Veteran infielder Juan Castro, who was told before the Dodgers left spring training that he wouldn't make the club, has agreed to begin the season at Triple-A Albuquerque. Veteran outfielder Gabe Kapler, who would have made the club if the Dodgers had an available 40-man roster spot, still hasn't decided whether he will go to the minors, but he is expected to give general manager Ned Colletti an answer later this week.
The minor league season begins on Thursday.
Mattingly let go
Mattingly's son Preston has been released by the Cleveland Indians, to whom the Dodgers traded him last fall after originally drafting him with a first-round sandwich pick (31st overall) in 2006 and giving him a $1 million signing bonus.
Mattingly said his son, who didn't have a lot of baseball experience when the Dodgers drafted him because he was primarily a basketball star in high school, is pondering whether he wants to continue to pursue a baseball career.
"He is thinking about what he wants to do," said Mattingly, who then joked that, "he talked earlier about walking on at Kentucky (for basketball)."
Preston Mattingly and a couple of friends recently shot a YouTube video at their high school in Evansville, Ind., in which one of the friends, a trick-shot artist, makes several amazing basketball shots and even throws a football from outside the school's stadium into a trash can set up on a track ringing the field inside the stadium. The video, which also includes a guy in a bear suit, can be found by searching for "trick shots by Bearwinkle."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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