Casey Blake signing off on Dodger career

My family has felt a special connection to Casey Blake. My two oldest children have run on the field before the game at Dodger Stadium, and each time it was the Bearded One who autographed their baseballs.

So even though their attention to the Dodgers is limited, it will be sad for me to break the news to them that Blake has apparently played his final game as a Dodger:

... Blake is having season-ending surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his neck.

Blake did not travel to Pittsburgh for the Dodgers' game against the Pirates on Thursday, remaining in Los Angeles to have tests in advance of the operation Tuesday.

Blake has been bothered by the nerve and a cervical strain much of the season, and missed time with an elbow infection and back spasms. He hit .252 with four home runs and 26 RBIs in 63 games.

He told the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez 12 days ago: "Obviously, this neck thing is pretty serious. I want to be able to move my neck when I'm 50." ...

The Dodgers were already planning on exercising their buyout of Blake's 2012 option. Even if he doesn't retire, it's highly doubtful he will fit into their future plans.

Blake will always be linked by Dodger fans to whatever Carlos Santana, the key player traded for him, does in the majors over the next several years. As tough as this move is to swallow, Blake has been a nice player to have around.

Playing steady defense, he had a .313 on-base percentage and .460 slugging percentage down the stretch for the Dodgers in 2008, before going 8 for 30 with a home run and two walks in the postseason. For his 406-game Dodger career, Blake had a .338 OBP and .431 slugging. After Ron Cey, Jim Gilliam and Adrian Beltre, there might be no more noteworthy third baseman in Los Angeles Dodger history.

Blake, who turned 38 last week, has played 1,265 games with a .778 OPS and 167 home runs.