Blake better after leaving with back spasms

Blake better after leaving with back spasms

Blake better after leaving with back spasms
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake left Saturday's game against the Giants in the first inning with lower back spasms, but he was feeling better by the time he left Scottsdale Stadium.

The 37-year-old Blake, off to a slow start this spring, put down a sacrifice bunt as the second batter of the game and felt his lower back cramp up when he stopped past the first-base bag.

"It's been a little tight this week, and I've been managing it the last several days," said Blake. "It's the same thing I had in the middle of last season."

Blake missed four games in June with lower back spasms that initially had the club fearing he would need to go on the disabled list, but he rebounded quickly and played through the rest of the season.

Trainer Stan Conte estimated that Blake would miss only a few days.

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"He was feeling better by the time he left here," he said.

Blake said he was more concerned with missing playing time now than the possibility that the injury is serious.

"I know I'll be fine," he said. "It just stinks now that we've got a lot of games [four this weekend] and I have to rest a couple of days. I need to play now, I need to get in there and get my at-bats. That's what stinks about it."

Blake came into the game hitting .077 (1-for-13) with five strikeouts -- the one hit a double -- and he's committed two errors.

It has been manager Don Mattingly's stated desire this year to give Blake more days off during the season to ration his durability and possibly get more production from him. Last year, playing 146 games, he hit .248 with 17 homers and 64 RBIs. It was his lowest batting average and RBI totals since 2005 and lowest home run total since '03.

One of the stated reasons for signing Juan Uribe to be the starting second baseman, according to general manager Ned Colletti, was his experience at third base. Supposedly, the club would move Uribe to third base when Blake rests and start Jamey Carroll at second base.

Coincidentally, the Dodgers started Uribe at third and Carroll at second in their other split-squad game on Saturday against Kansas City. It was Uribe's first game this spring at third base, where non-roster infielder Aaron Miles has seen extensive time, as have Ivan De Jesus and Justin Sellers. In Saturday's split-squad game, Blake was replaced by Russell Mitchell.

The Dodgers are likely to start the season with six infielders and 11 pitchers, at least until they need a fifth starter on April 12. The five infielders assured of spots (barring injury) are Blake, Uribe, Carroll, Rafael Furcal and James Loney.

Battling for the last spot are Miles, De Jesus, Sellers, Mitchell, Hector Gimenez, Eugenio Velez and Juan Castro.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.