Blake could transition from full-time role in '11

Blake could transition from full-time role in '11

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake turned 37 in late August, and he's likely to begin transitioning to a role other than a full-time player next season.

"It's something that we need to talk about, where we're going," incoming manager Don Mattingly said. "We want to evaluate it over time instead of trying to do it right now, fast. In general, Casey benefits from a couple days off, and I've actually asked him about it. I can see it when he gets worn down. So it's one of those things you talk about."

"I think there's days, no question," Mattingly said when asked if he's seen Blake tired.

Blake entered Wednesday hitting .248 with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs in 138 games. His average is well down from the .280 mark he finished with last season in almost equivalent playing time, and his home run number has tapered, but only slightly. He had 18 in 2009.

Perhaps most significant are Blake's walk and strikeout rates: He has 13 more strikeouts and 19 fewer walks in 538 plate appearances this season than he did in the 565 plate appearances he finished with last season.

Outgoing manager Joe Torre said he wanted to rest Blake more this season. That became impossible when Jamey Carroll, the first man off the bench, had to spend significant time at shortstop and second base, and Ronnie Belliard didn't play well enough to merit more time.

"Initially, at the start of the season, I was looking to rest him a day, maybe more," Torre said. "Maybe three days every two weeks. We started out all right and then we sort of fell into [a situation where] he's swinging the bat really well and we pushed the envelope a little bit."

Blake, a 12-year veteran, will be entering the last season of a three-year, $17.5 million deal in 2011. There's a team option or buyout for 2012. He's open to the idea of resting more.

"I certainly don't want to rest if it's a day game after a night game if I'm swinging the bat well," Blake said. "But that's the manager's call. ... I don't know what the optimum amount of rest would be.

"Obviously, I'm toward the end of my career. I still think that with some more consistency on my part, I still think I can have one of my better years yet. I still can play third as well as anybody. Any other role that Don wants to put me in to make the team better, that's not my call."

Torre said the Dodgers would be looking for someone to share time at third base next season. It's possible that Carroll, Blake and shortstop Rafael Furcal could form a rotation on the left side of the infield, in which Carroll spells the latter two.