June 15 payroll still looms for Frank McCourt

Owner Frank McCourt has met the Dodgers’ May 31 payroll, holding off a potential takeover of the team by the commissioner’s office, two people familiar with the situation said Friday.

McCourt remains in search of funding to meet the team’s June 15 payroll, according to one of the people, neither of whom was authorized to speak publicly. If McCourt were to fail to meet a payroll, the league would cover the expenses and would have the option to seize the Dodgers from him.

McCourt is trying to stay afloat until a June 22 court hearing, when he hopes for a ruling that his ex-wife, Jamie McCourt, has no standing to challenge a proposed television contract between the Dodgers and Fox. Even if Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon rules in Frank McCourt’s favor, the deal could be vetoed by Commissioner Bud Selig.

At the June 22 hearing, Gordon also will consider Jamie McCourt’s motion to order an immediate sale of the team.

Frank McCourt says that the pending Fox contract would provide $285 million in immediate funding, which would end the biweekly questions about whether he can meet the Dodgers’ payroll. He needed a $30-million personal loan to cover the first three payrolls of the season — on April 15, April 30 and May 15.

Friday marked the last business day before the May 31 payroll. The funds needed to be secured by Friday in order to ensure automatic processing and timely payments.


Blake activated

If Don Mattingly had his way, Casey Blake would have had another 10 to 12 at-bats in triple A before being activated from the disabled list.

“We really can’t afford to do that,” Mattingly said, “so here he is.”

Mattingly likened Blake’s situation to that of Rafael Furcal, who returned to the Dodgers’ lineup last week.

Blake, who underwent surgery last month to clean out an infected elbow, started at third base and batted second Friday. His preparation consisted of 14 at-bats in a rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Albuquerque. He had two hits and eight strikeouts.

“I purposely didn’t get any hits down there,” Blake said, jokingly. “Get that four-game slump out of the way.”

Blake said he was unsure of how long it would take him to regain his timing.

“After sitting out a month, who knows?” he said.

Blake has been on the disabled list since April 25.

He said it was difficult to watch his team lose as many games as it did while he was out.

“One, you frustrated because we’re not playing well, and, two, you can’t do anything about it,” he said.

Blake said that one of his goals is to play well enough over the remainder of the season to force the Dodgers to pick up the $6-million club option on his contract for next year.

“Hopefully things will take care of themselves,” Blake said. “If I play well, hopefully they have an easy decision.”

Short hops

Andre Ethier avoided a suspension but was fined $2,500 by the commissioner’s office for flipping his middle finger at photographers during batting practice at Dodger Stadium on May 16. Photographs of Ethier making the obscene gesture appeared on a sports gossip site. … Sidelined reliever Blake Hawksworth reinjured his strained groin pitching for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga and was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Friday. … With not many human beings attending Dodger Stadium these days, the Dodgers will be opening the gates of their right field pavilion to dogs on Saturday. The cost of a dog’s ticket is the same as that of a human being’s: $30. Visit for more details.