Dodgers get Rafael Furcal back but lose Casey Blake, again

As shortstop Rafael Furcal came back from the disabled list Sunday, another Dodgers veteran, third baseman Casey Blake, went on the DL for the third time this season.

Blake, 37, has struggled with a persistent sore neck. “He’s been battling this thing,” Manager Don Mattingly said before the Dodgers lost, 3-1, to the Angels at Angel Stadium.

It’s unclear whether Blake’s pain and limited motion in his neck are being caused by a pinched nerve, arthritis or some other problem, but putting him on the DL should “give him the time to try to get it right,” Mattingly said.

Blake was on the DL earlier this season because of back problems, then again for surgery for a staph infection on his left elbow.


There had been speculation that rookie shortstop Dee Gordon would be sent back to the minor leagues to make room for Furcal, who had been on the DL since June 4 because of a strained muscle in his side.

Gordon remained on the team, but, if Furcal stays healthy and plays most days, Mattingly indicated that Gordon might be sent back to triple-A Albuquerque in the near future.

“I haven’t thought about it too much because things kind of changed” with Blake, “but we don’t want [Gordon] to be here and not play,” Mattingly said.

Gordon did not play Sunday. Furcal was one for four in his return, stole a base and scored the Dodgers’ run.


Seeing for Miles

Now that he sees more clearly, Aaron Miles has been red-hot at the plate.

Miles is batting .463 (31 for 67) in his last 21 games after going one for three Sunday, and is hitting .324 for the season. His .419 average in June led the National League.

The veteran infielder and switch-hitter gives a lot of credit to laser surgery that he had on both eyes in the off-season to treat near-sightedness.


“I’d been a contact-lens wearer my whole career,” he said. “I felt like it was never really broken, but after the surgery I’ve never seen this good.

“I feel good from both sides of the plate, confident in my approach, and it’s just something where a lot of things have gone in the right direction,” Miles said.

A member of the St. Louis Cardinals last year, Miles, 34, made the Dodgers this spring as a nonroster invitee. “I worked hard this off-season,” he said. “I came into camp needing to impress and show these guys I can still play at this level.”

Miles played third base Sunday in place of the injured Blake, and “obviously I’ve benefited” in terms of playing time “from a lot of these guys getting hurt” this season, Miles said. “But in a way it’s opened a door for me to get some at-bats and get a good flow going.”