Dodgers beat Pirates; Casey Blake and Juan Uribe face surgery
Reporting from Pittsburgh — Casey Blake tried playing hurt. Juan Uribe tried resting.
But the Dodgers’ two injury-riddled infielders are expected to end their seasons the same way: on the operating table.
Surgeries are planned for Blake and Uribe in the coming weeks, with Blake scheduled for a neck operation on Tuesday and Uribe receiving a second opinion before undergoing a procedure to repair a sports hernia.
“It’s really a microcosm of what’s happened to us,” Manager Don Mattingly said.
Dodgers players have combined to miss 794 games while on the disabled list this season. Blake and Uribe will be the third and fourth Dodgers to undergo season-ending operations, following pitchers Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland.
Blake, who is in the final guaranteed season of a three-year, $17.5-million contract, was limited to 63 games, hitting .252 with four home runs and 26 runs batted in. Uribe, who was signed to a three-year, $21-million deal last winter, played in 77 games, batting .204 with four home runs and 28 RBIs.
Neither player traveled to Pittsburgh with the Dodgers, who extended their winning streak to four games with a 6-4 victory over the Pirates on Thursday.
Blake is expected to be sidelined for two to three months and Uribe for six to eight weeks. Both players should be ready for the start of spring training, trainer Stan Conte said.
For the 38-year-old Blake, that could be with another team, as the Dodgers are expected to decline his $6-million club option. He is determined to play somewhere, according to Conte and Mattingly.
The third baseman has arthritis in his spine that has resulted in a pinched nerve.
“The nerves that come out of your neck and go down to your arm have a space, a hole that they go through,” Conte said. “When you have arthritis, that space is closed down a little bit, making it easier to pinch the nerve. The idea is to have surgery to open up that hole.”
Conte and Mattingly said Blake insisted the surgery not take place before rosters expanded on Thursday. They agreed his last game would be on Wednesday, a 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.
“He didn’t want the team to play short,” Conte said.
The trainer said Blake told him something similar when he started experiencing neck pain in June. He asked to not be moved to the disabled list until Rafael Furcal was activated.
“Everyone talks about the ultimate player who plays for the organization and the team, who plays through injuries,” Conte said. “That’s kind of easy to do when you’re winning. Casey’s a guy who would do it when you’re not winning. This is a guy you want to be in a foxhole with.”
Whereas Conte described Blake’s surgery as inevitable, Uribe’s was something the Dodgers wanted to avoid.
“We think there is a slight tear and a nerve entrapped there,” Conte said. “There were two ways to go about this. One was to inject the area, see if it would heal, rest it and progressively get him back.”
That course of treatment appeared to be working — until Monday, when Uribe felt pain when sprinting.
“That told us the conservative approach was probably not going to work,” Conte said. “We suggested he get surgery.”
Conte said Uribe is on board with the plan.
“He would have a normal off-season,” Conte said.
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