Dodgers' Casey Blake wants in as soon as possible

Casey Blake was back from Arizona and in the Dodgers' clubhouse Sunday — and if the veteran third baseman has his way, he will be back in the lineup in Colorado on Wednesday.

Blake said he was expecting to travel with the Dodgers to Denver, where they will play a two-game set that starts Tuesday. Wednesday is the first day he is eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list. Blake injured his back March 12.

"If I stay here with the team, I'd like to play as soon as I could," Blake said. "I don't think they want me sitting around and not facing live pitching for more days than I have to."

The idea of activating Blake on Wednesday is something Don Mattingly suddenly seems open to doing. The rookie manager had previously said he wanted to wait until Friday to make a roster move, because the Dodgers have an off-day Thursday and open a three-game series in San Diego on Friday.

But the Dodgers fielded a lineup that included five reserves Saturday and were blown out by the San Francisco Giants, 10-0.

The 37-year-old Blake has been playing in minorleague games at the Dodgers' spring-training complex in Arizona, where liberal substitution rules allowed him to get extra at-bats.

Asked what he batted in those games, Blake playfully said, "Who knows? When you get nine at-bats in a day, it's not real conducive to raising your average."

Blake hit .077 in eight major league spring training games before he was hurt. He batted .248 last year.

"In my heart, I know I'm ready to go," Blake said. "It was real tough on me watching those games on TV. It kind of lit that fire up more for me to get back here and be with my teammates and get out there and compete with them."

Blake acknowledged that the prospect of not facing live pitching for the next couple of days wasn't ideal.

Told that he should have faced Brian Wilson when the Giants closer pitched a simulated game earlier in the day, Blake replied, "That probably wouldn't have boosted my confidence."

The fifth starter

Jon Garland is progressing nicely in his recovery from a strained side muscle and lobbying to pitch April 10, the first time the fifth spot in the rotation comes up. If Garland isn't ready, John Ely or Tim Redding will start that day.

Just sayin' …

Russell Martin, who wasn't tendered a contract by the Dodgers in the off-season, is batting .455, the best among the New York Yankees' everyday players. Martin has hit a home run and driven in three runs. He has scored three runs and stolen a base.

Short hops

Juan Uribe, who missed the previous two games because of a bruised arm, returned to the lineup.… Dioner Navarro, who is recovering from a side muscle injury, went to Arizona. He will continue his rehabilitation at the Dodgers' spring-training complex.

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