Dodgers Notes: Blake Running Out Of Time, Gimenez In Left Field, And Rain In The Forecast

It seems more and more likely that Casey Blake will open the season on the disabled list.

Live from Camelback Ranch -- Donnie Two Times puts his nickname to the test today, as he plans to manage the Dodgers, twice. The Dodgers have two games today, though rain threatens them both. The first game features a nice matchup of young southpaws, with Clayton Kershaw facing Brett Anderson of the A's. In the nightcap, the Dodgers travel to Scottsdale to face the Diamondbacks, with Tim Redding facing Ian Kennedy.

UPDATE: The first game, against Oakland has been canceled. Kershaw will pitch tonight against Arizona if that game isn't rained out, too.

DL Likely For Blake

As we are now a mere 10 days away from opening day, this week is critical as players make their final push to prepare for the season. For injured players, that preparation is even more critical. Casey Blake hasn't played since March 12 as he deals with inflammation in his back, so he is running out of days and plate appearances he needs to get ready for the regular season. Still, Blake feels he will be ready for March 31 against the Giants, even if his manager isn't so sure.

Don Mattingly apparently knows the players will say what he wants to hear. "I know guys, what they do is they start targeting opening day. They want to be ready, and do stuff and tell you stuff to get to opening day," he said this morning, noting that Blake is running out of time to be ready for opening day.

"For me, I'd rather, if it's five days or seven, eight, 10 days into the season and he's healthy and ready to go and gets to that point, and have him the rest of the year, instead of trying to bang around and not being ready to go, and have a guy who's 100% on opening day."

In other injury news, Mattingly said Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla were progressing well in their rehabilitation, but that neither one will be ready on opening day. That said, Mattingly wouldn't rule out Garland being ready to start when the Dodgers first need a fifth starter, which would be April 12 in San Francisco. Theoretically, the Dodgers could place Garland on the disabled list to start the season, retroactively to March 21 (the earliest possible date for such a maneuver), opening up a roster spot until he is needed to pitch.

Left Field Not Yet Decided

What we know is that the Dodgers will run a platoon in left field this season. However, the participants in said platoon are not yet set in stone. When asked who would start against right-handed pitchers, Mattingly was noncommittal, saying only that a number of players in the mix, including Tony Gwynn, Jay Gibbons, and Xavier Paul.

Mattingly even said Hector Gimenez was a candidate in left field, and that the catcher / first baseman would see time there this week, perhaps as soon as Tuesday. Mattingly said Gimenez played some outfield in winter ball. It seems like the Dodgers are trying to create as many ways as possible to justify carrying Gimenez, who is out of options, on the active roster.

Mattingly did commit to Marcus Thames as the right-handed half of the left field platoon. When asked about Thames' defense, Mattingly said, "I'm not afraid of Marcus Thames defensively. It's not like we're coming here and thought he was going to be a Gold Glove outfielder. We knew where we were at when we started." Thames will also see occasional time at first base, but not too often. Thames is starting at first base in today's day game, his first action at the position all spring.

What the platoon in left field will bring offensively is what is appealing to Mattingly, who said he expects the combination of players to have a home run total "in the 20s." In 2010, Dodger left fielders hit a combined .261/.322/.392 (an 86 sOPS+, relative to the league) with 14 home runs, and 34 doubles.

Lineups

Athletics   Dodgers
SS Pennington
SS Furcal
DH Suzuki
CF Gwynn
RF DeJesus
3B Uribe               
1B Jackson
LF Paul
3B Kouzmanoff     
1B
Thames
LF Carter
RF Kapler
CF Carson
C Barajas
C Powell
2B Velez
2B Sogard
P Kershaw

Following Kershaw will be Jonathan Broxton and Matt Guerrier, both making their first back-to-back appearances of the spring. Mike MacDougal will also be making his first back-to-back appearance, as he is slated to pitch tonight in Scottsdale, weather permitting.

Following Anderson for Oakland will be Brian Fuentes, Michael Wuertz, and Brad Ziegler.

**********

Game Time: 1:05 p.m. PST

TV: Prime Ticket

MLB Gameday

David Young contributed to this report.

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