Dodgers’ Casey Blake worries about pinched nerve in neck

Reporting from Denver — Casey Blake hit off a tee Sunday, the start of his latest comeback from a pinched nerve in his neck that has bothered him for a significant part of the season.

But Blake, who has missed the Dodgers’ last four games, is proceeding with caution.

“Obviously, this neck thing is pretty serious,” he said. “I want to be able to move my neck when I’m 50.”

As recently as last month, the 38-year-old third baseman said he wasn’t entertaining the idea of retirement. But he said this weekend that his condition was making him reconsider.


“Sure,” he said. “Obviously, I don’t want to go out like this. Hopefully, with rest in the off-season this thing goes away and I can get ready to play another season. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”

He said he is unsure whether he would continue playing if it meant jeopardizing his long-term health.

Blake, who has made three trips to the disabled list and is batting .250 in 58 games, said his goals for the remainder of the season have also changed.

Earlier in the year, he talked about wanting to play well enough to essentially force the Dodgers to exercise the $6-million team option in his contract for next season. He said this week that his priorities have now shifted.

“I’m not even worried about that right now,” Blake said. “The main focus is just getting healthy and doing what’s best for my neck and my future.”

He said doctors have warned him that his condition could worsen if he continues to play.

“The more I play, the more chance I have to really put more pressure on that nerve,” Blake said. “If you put enough pressure on it, you bang it enough, you can cause some damage.”

Colletti to the Cubs?

General Manager Ned Colletti is being mentioned by Chicago newspapers as a candidate to take over the Cubs in the same capacity. The Cubs’ position became vacant this week when longtime general manager Jim Hendry was fired.

Colletti grew up in the Chicago area. A former sportswriter, he broke into baseball as a publicist for the Cubs.

But Colletti is under contract with the Dodgers for next season.

He declined to speak about his interest in the Cubs’ position, instead sending a text message that read, “I have a contract and a commitment to the Dodgers. Until somebody tells me otherwise, that is where my focus is and where my efforts will be.”

Reunion with Raffy

The Dodgers will open a three-game series on Monday in St. Louis, where they will be see shortstop Rafael Furcal for the first time since they sent him to the Cardinals at the non-waiver trade deadline.

But they will find Furcal in the same condition he was in during most of his time with the Dodgers this season: hurt.

Furcal’s latest injury was particularly freakish. He slipped in the batting cages at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Sunday and sprained his thumb trying to break his fall, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

When relayed the news, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly sighed.

“It’s been that kind of year for him,” Mattingly said.