Blake eager to come off DL

The Dodgers' original plan was for Casey Blake to come off the disabled list on Friday, when they open a series in San Diego. But there are two problems with that. The minor league season doesn't begin until Thursday, so there are no additional at-bats that Blake can receive over the next week to continue getting his timing ready for the season.

n. Ivan De Jesus Jr. looked overmatched in his first two major league games, and the Dodgers' infield Saturday had the paying customers wondering what they were spending their money on.

Juan Uribe has moved from second base to third base with Blake on the disabled list, putting Jamey Carroll and De Jesus at second base.

But the weak infield was exposed when Uribe was out with a swollen left elbow Saturday and shortstop Rafael Furcal was given a scheduled day off. Carroll, De Jesus and Aaron Miles played instead.

Blake rejoined his teammates Sunday, took batting practice, said he's flying with the team Monday to Colorado, and lobbied to get activated from the disabled list when he's eligible on Wednesday.

"If I stay with the team, I'd like to play as soon as I can, which would be (Wednesday)," Blake said. "I don't make that call. I don't think they want me sitting around and not facing live pitching."

Blake spent the last week playing in spring training games in Arizona, getting 8-9 at-bats per game.

"It's not very conducive to raising your batting average," Blake said, smiling, but he added that it's ideal for getting ready for the season. Manager Don Mattingly requested that Blake be totally honest about when he's ready, not just say that he's ready when eligible.

When told that Mattingly might not completely trust him, Blake said, "Really? Hmm, I might have to talk with him."

Mattingly conceded that Blake doesn't have much more to do but was reluctant to start Blake on Wednesday after not seeing live pitching for three days. The only alternative is having Blake play in minor leagues games Thursday or Friday.

A couple of factors that might tip the scales: Jason Hammel is starting for the Rockies on Wednesday, and Blake is 5-for-18 (.278) with a home run, a double and four RBI against him; also, like most hitters, Blake hits well at Coors Field (7-for-21 with two home runs and two doubles since 2008).

Broxton's fast start a relief
It took Jonathan Broxton 31 games to get his third save last season. It took him four games this year.

Not that it was Broxton's fault last year. The Dodgers didn't provide him many save chances the first month of the season.

Also, former manager Joe Torre ran into some bad luck where he would pitch Broxton in a blowout to get him some work, and then not have him available for a real save.

Broxton's opening weekend provided just enough struggles to keep the skeptics nervous, and plenty of material to suggest his second-half meltdown is a thing of the past.

A brief recap:

Game one: Broxton entered with a two-run lead. First baseman James Loney saved him by making a nice play on a wicked slicing grounder for the first out. Broxton allowed a solo home run to Pat Burrell, then retired Miguel Tejada and Brandon Belt to get the save.

Game two: Broxton entered with a one-run lead. He retired the side in order, starting with three straight called strikes to Mark De Rosa, and needing a total of only nine pitches.

Game four: Broxton entered with a three-run lead and leadoff hitter Aaron Rowand's pinch home run started the inning. After a groundout, Freddy Sanchez singled to right, bringing the tying run to the plate. Broxton retired Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey on groundballs to save it.

"I've still got to get three outs; that's the mindset I use whether we're up one run or up four," Broxton said, after Sunday's series finale against the Giants. "We're winning, so I'm happy."

The encouraging sign was that Broxton's fastball was clocked at 96-98 mph for the first two games, and down slightly to 93-96 on Sunday. The slider, a pitch Broxton sometimes loses confidence in, was an effective weapon the first two games. When catcher Rod Barajas saw it registering 89-90 mph on the scoreboard, he kept calling for it.

Rowand's home run came on a slider, however, and Broxton threw it only once more (out of 19 a total of 19 pitches) the rest of the inning.

Manager Don Mattingly was asked if Broxton's home runs were cause for concern or anxiety. After a long "Uhhhh" he said, "No. He keeps getting (the last out). That's what we're looking for."

NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Hiroki Kuroda and Giants LHP Barry Zito nearly combined for an unusual perfect game. After a solo home run by Pablo Sandoval in the second inning, Kuroda and Zito combined to retire 26 consecutive batters. On the would-be 27th out, Freddy Sanchez of the Giants hit a slow roller on the infield that somehow caused third baseman Juan Uribe to trip and tumble over himself. It was ruled a single.

--RHP Jon Garland, out because of a strained oblique since early March, hasn't ruled himself out for making a start April 10, the first time the Dodgers plan to use a fifth starter. It's still a remote possibility though. The Dodgers are more likely to use RHP Tim Redding or RHP John Ely. Both will pitch in a minor league intrasquad game Tuesday, putting them in line to pitch the series finale in San Diego. But it does bode well for Garland pitching April 15, and definitely by April 20.

--RF Andre Ethier is 0-for-6 against left-handers after four games, compared to 5-for-9 against right-handers. It's only four games, so the sample size is obviously very small. But coming off a year when his slash line was .318/.396/.564 against right-handers, and only .233/.292/.333 against left-handers, it's worth following. Once the starting pitcher is removed, Ethier will see the other team's best left-handed reliever almost every time.

--C Dioner Navarro has traveled to Arizona to continue his rehab from a strained oblique. The injury is normally a 4-to-5 week process, including rehab games, which would put Navarro's return late this month.

--INF Juan Castro has agreed to begin the season at Triple-A Albuquerque. Castro was told before the Dodgers left Arizona that he wouldn't make the club, and was given a few days to decide if he wanted to retire or keep playing in the minors. Castro has talked with Hall of Fame spanish announcer Jaime Jarrin about broadcasting when his career is over, but wants to continue playing as long as possible.

--3B Juan Uribe was back in the Dodgers lineup Sunday after missing the previous two games with a swollen left elbow, the result of a Tim Lincecum fastball from Opening Day. Uribe went 1-for-4 and made a nice play on a slow roller hit by speedy Freddy Sanchez.

--C A.J. Ellis was warming up in the bullpen in the ninth inning of the Dodgers' 10-0 loss to the Giants on Saturday. Ellis was not used; RHP Lance Cormier went three innings to save the bullpen for Sunday's series finale. Ellis did pitch once in a minor league game. After warming up in the bullpen in the top of the ninth, Ellis pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth and singled off the second baseman's glove.

--RHP Kenley Jansen allowed two runs in 29 innings last year in his rookie season. He allowed four runs (on four hits and two walks) in his 2011 debut Saturday against the Giants.

--1B Coach Davey Lopes left the team Saturday morning because of a death in the family. Lopes is expected to rejoin the team Tuesday at Coors Field in Denver. Dave Hansen, the Dodgers' assistant hitting coach, took over Lopes' duties at first base over the weekend.

BY THE NUMBERS: $10,000 -- Amount of reward money offered for information that would lead to the arrest of the two Dodger fans who savagely beat a Giant fan in the parking lot on Opening Day. The Giant fan, Bryan Stow, is a 42-year-old paramedic and father of two. He's in a medically-induced coma at County-USC Medical Center to reduce the swelling in his brain. LA detectives released sketches of the two assailants, described as Latino men between the ages 18 and 25. They said the men fled the scene in a four-door sedan driven by a woman with a young boy inside.

BY THE NUMBERS II -- Plate appearances by the Dodgers team before their first home run of this season. It came Sunday by Matt Kemp in the first inning off Barry Zito. The last time the Dodgers went that long without a homer to begin the season was 1996, when Billy Ashley also homered in the team's 109th plate appearance.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's thinking about what he wants to do. He talked earlier about walking on at Kentucky (to play basketball)." -- Manager Don Mattingly, talking about his son Preston, who was released by the Indians on Sunday. The walk-on basketball comment was a joke, although Preston was more of a basketball star in high school than a baseball star. Preston was selected with the 31st overall pick in 2006 by the Dodgers and signed for a $1 million bonus.

QUOTE TO NOTE II: "Honestly, I know it's a cliche, but we are just asking these guys to get ready to play every day. I don't care if it's on the road or at home, if they're playing in cold weather, hot weather, wind, whatever it is. We're just asking them to be ready to play and not make any excuses and not use any reason to say, 'I can't do it.'" -- Manager Don Mattingly, on the upcoming trip that starts with two likely cold games in Denver on Tonight and Wednesday.

MEDICAL WATCH:
--C Dioner Navarro (torn right oblique muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22, but has gone to Arizona to continue his rehab. He might be able to return late in April.

--RHP Jon Garland (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He could be back in the big-league rotation late in April.

--RHP Vicente Padilla (right forearm surgery in February 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He could be back in the big-league rotation in mid-April.

--OF Jay Gibbons (blurred vision in left eye) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He got new contact lenses in late March, and he didn't expect to be sidelined long term.

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