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Dodgers Get a Little Relief at Third Base

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Evidently B-L-A-K-E spells relief for the Dodgers. After going on the disabled list on April 25 for a left elbow infection, third baseman Casey Blake was reinstated today. To make room infielder Russ Mitchell was optioned back to Triple-A Albuquerque.

“I’m pretty amazed at how fast this came along,” Blake said. “The doctor indicated they’re not reconstructing anything in there. They just cleaned it out. So it’s a matter of just taking time and let things heal.”

Also helping speed things along is the Dodgers sputtering offense. So far in May the Dodgers had only scored five or more runs five times and only twice at home.

“We haven’t been able to put runs together yet,” Manager Don Mattingly admitted.

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He did have some optimism when the Dodgers went on a road trip to visit the Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins in late April. The Dodgers combined for 27 runs in the three-game series against the Cubs and scored 12 runs in their two wins in Florida, but the injuries came up yet again.

“We were starting to get it but then obviously Juan [Uribe] goes down in Chicago,” Mattingly explained. “By the time we left Chicago and started the Miami series, Casey’s elbow blows up. There was a short period there we it started to look like this is what our club could be.”

With the Dodgers sitting at 22-29 and six games behind the division leader San Francisco Giants, Mattingly felt that Blake needed to be rushed to establish some sort of offensive identity.

Manager Don Mattingly admitted that Blake did not get enough rehabilitation reps in Albuquerque.

“You probably would have liked him to have another 10 or 12 at-bats,” Mattingly said. “We can’t really afford to do that.”

But Blake said he was ready to go. “I don’t know how many at-bats I would have liked to get. I felt like I got as many as I needed.”

And Blake was insistent that there were no lingering effects from the staph infection in his elbow. “I wasn’t going to come back unless my elbow felt good.”

Fighting Bullpen. One of the rookie call-ups from the Minor Leagues was pitcher Javy Guerra. In his seventh season in the Dodger organization, this has been his first sniff of the big leagues when called up on May 15 to replace the injured Blake Hawksworth.

“It’s been a lot more than I could have imagined,” Guerra said about his expectations of the big leagues. “There’s a lot of learning going on, and it’s completely different because every day you’re learning on the run.”

Guerra seems to be a fast learner having given up only two runs in his six one-inning appearances.

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“Javy Guerra is pretty unflappable for the most part,” Mattingly commented noting that all of the Minor League call-ups are gaining valuable experience.

Guerra noted that all of the veterans are pitching bits of advice to help things along.

“Luckily I’ve had a lot of guys in the bullpen and a lot of guys that start help me out and take me under their wing. So it’s been a little easier for me to learn on the run.”

Guerra also acknowledged that there is some familiarity on the team which eases things. When entering the Dodger clubhouse the “young” kids are cloistered close to one another with Jerry Sands, the now-departed Russ Mitchell and Guerra next to one another and pitcher Scott Elbert within throwing distance.

“Being able to come up with some guys you’ve played with, it’s a little more comforting.”