Casey Blake likely heading to DL

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake is expected to begin the season on the 15-day disabled list due to a bad back.

"Yeah, we are definitely moving in that direction," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "I know guys start thinking about Opening Day and [how] they want to be ready, and they do stuff and they tell you stuff to get to Opening Day. I would rather have him miss [the first] five, seven or 10 days and then have him healthy for the rest of the year instead of trying to [bring him back] on Opening Day when he's not ready to go and not 100-percent healthy."

The thinking is that Blake won't see enough playing time to be ready for the season after the inflammation in his lower-thoracic region heals enough to allow him to get back into a game.

The Dodgers break camp on Sunday night, and although they still will have three more spring-training games in Los Angeles or Anaheim after that, their season opener is now just 10 days away. Blake said on Monday morning that even before he was injured, he didn't feel he had nearly enough at-bats or games to be ready for the start of the season.

"I know I'm not ready right now," Blake said. "Even if I could play, I'm not ready."

Blake did say his back continues to improve, but that he felt a little soreness after hitting off a tee on Saturday, one of the biggest steps so far in his effort to get back to playing. He also pointed out that when he is ready to play, he could go to the minor league side, where games are loosely structured, and get several at-bats in a row.

Still, with so little time left in camp, it is unlikely Blake could get as many at-bats, either on the minor league side or in the Cactus League, as he needs.

"He isn't going to be out there today taking batting practice or any other stuff," Mattingly said. "Even if he could get on the field tomorrow, there would be a shortage of at-bats to get ready."

If Blake begins the season on the 15-day DL, the move could be backdated to Tuesday as long as he doesn't play in any Cactus League games. That would mean Blake could be activated as early as April 6. While he is on the DL, the Dodgers likely would move second baseman Juan Uribe to third, with utility man Jamey Carroll taking over at second.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.