- Tony Jackson, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers activated third baseman Casey Blake from the 15-day disabled list before Friday night's game against the Florida Marlins despite the fact Blake went just 2-for-14 with eight strikeouts on a four-game rehabilitation assignment with the team's Triple-A Albuquerque affiliate.
Meanwhile, reliever Blake Hawksworth, whom the Dodgers had hoped to activate from the DL on Friday, was instead sent for an MRI exam after he felt something in his groin during the second of his two rehab appearances for advanced Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
Hawksworth went on the DL May 15, retroactive to May 11, with a strained right groin that at the time wasn't expected to keep him out much longer than the minimum 15 days.
"He felt a little tightness,'' Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said. "It's enough [tightness] for us. We expected him to come out perfect, and he didn't come out perfect, so we just want to make sure nothing has changed.''
To clear a roster spot for Blake, the Dodgers optioned rookie infielder Russell Mitchell back to Albuquerque. Mitchell was hitting .115 in the majors, so even if Blake's hitting stroke isn't quite right yet, the Dodgers figure he can give them at least as much offensively as Mitchell did.
"As long as he is physically OK, there aren't really any concerns,'' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said before the game. "Obviously, we would have liked for him to be getting hits every time up and feeling great. But we also know that doesn't matter and that doesn't count. In a sense, we would like him to be swinging the bat better, but it's two different places.''
Blake had been on the 15-day disabled list since April 29 with a staph infection in his left elbow that might have occurred as the result of a dive at third base during a series with the Chicago Cubs April 22-24. The infection ultimately had to be cleaned out surgically.
Blake was in the starting lineup against the Marlins, batting second. He went 1-for-4 and scored the winning run in the Dodgers' 3-2 walk-off win Friday night.
Blake conceded that after missing a month, it will be, to some extent, like starting spring training all over again.
"Sure, it really is, but it's not as bad, though, just because I have already played this year,'' he said before the game. "It's not like coming in from the offseason. ... My swing is fine. It's just a matter of timing. Obviously, I needed a rehab assignment to get my body back in shape. That timing is going to come. After being out a month or whatever, who knows how many at-bats it takes to get your timing back? It was just nice to play three or four games, see live pitching and take some ground balls.''
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
2dKevin Van Valkenburg