Blake improves, staves off DL

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake, who had just enough improvement in his lower back to avoid going onto the disabled list, is expected to test his back again before Monday's game against St. Louis.

The Dodgers still haven't completely ruled out putting Blake on the DL if he has a setback, but manager Joe Torre said after Sunday's game that in a best-case scenario, Blake could be ready to play by Tuesday.

"He took some swings, and he felt better,'' Dodgers manager Joe Torre said before the game. "He still feels it a little bit, but it's not grabbing him the way it was. If he gets to a point where it stops getting better, I think we may have to DL him. But as long as he continues to get better, I think it will be a couple, three more days."

Haeger issue a non-starter

Torre said he no longer plans to start knuckleballer Charlie Haeger before Vicente Padilla returns from the disabled list, which is expected to happen sometime in the next couple of weeks.

In his first appearance since coming off the DL himself, Haeger gave up two earned runs on three hits over two innings Saturday night against the Atlanta Braves.

Torre said rookie Carlos Monasterios will remain in the fifth spot in the rotation for now, presumably until Padilla returns.

Torre acknowledged that backup catcher A.J. Ellis was warming up in the bullpen during the ninth inning on Saturday night to possibly come in to pitch if Haeger hadn't been able to get through. With the Dodgers trailing by seven runs at the time, Jeff Weaver nursing a lesion on the middle finger of his throwing hand and the rest of the bullpen having been largely used up during the series, Torre didn't want to use any other pitchers.

Fortunately for Torre, who said he hates using position players as pitchers, Haeger was able to put the inning down and Ellis was able to avoid pitching in the game.

Sherrill likely back Tuesday

Torre said reliever George Sherrill probably will be activated from the DL as soon as he becomes eligible on Tuesday.
Sherrill pitched one inning Sunday in a minor league rehabilitation assignment for Triple-A Albuquerque. He gave up one hit, no runs and no walks against Memphis, and struck out two.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.