Casey Blake put on disabled list

Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday after having surgery to clean out a staph infection in his elbow.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the club hoped to get Blake back in four weeks, but team trainer Stan Conte said it would likely be six weeks because of the nature of the infection.

Infielder Russ Mitchell was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque to take Blake's place on the roster.

"Everyone is kind of racking their brains as to why this happened," Conte said. "But it happened and it happened quickly."

Conte said the infection had been contained to the bursa sac of Blake's elbow and had not spread to any other parts of his body. Doctors are still unsure exactly what type of bacterial infection he has, but they have ruled out the most serious type, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), that is highly resistant to antibiotics.

Blake started experiencing swelling in his left elbow during Tuesday's game against the Florida Marlins. He twice made middle-of-the night trips to the University of Miami hospital to receive IV antibiotics. The second night he experienced pain, a fever of 102 degrees and swelling, and the Dodgers discussed whether it was safe for him to travel home to Los Angeles before having surgery.

Doctors determined that it was safe for him to fly, but he went immediately to County-USC Medical Center to have surgery.

Mattingly said Blake will be in a sling for at least the next 10 days and probably will take some time to return to the clubhouse, for precautionary reasons.

Blake, 37, is hitting .321 with two homers, six RBIs and a .446 on-base percentage in 14 games this season. He is in the final guaranteed season of a three-year, $17.5 million contract that also has a $6 million club option for 2012.

Asked if Blake was scared by the sudden serious turn of events, Conte laughed and said, "He doesn't get freaked out. He's from Iowa."

Mitchell, a 15th-round draft pick in 2003, hit .143 in 15 games for the Dodgers last season after he was called up for the first time as part of September's roster expansion.

"It was tough for me [last season], I struggled," Mitchell said. "But those nerves have settled a bit. ... I've just been waiting for my opportunity to get back and I've got it."

Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.