Casey Blake may start rehab Friday

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake, who has been on the 15-day disabled list for the past two weeks with a staph infection that ultimately required surgery to clean out, is hoping to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment as early as Friday, manager Don Mattingly said before Sunday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"We would be happy if he were able to go play games while we are on the road,'' Mattingly said, with the Dodgers scheduled to begin a six-game trip on Friday night. "He took batting practice on the field [Saturday] and ground balls. He is a little sore today, just from a couple of days of full workouts. He will take BP on the field for a couple more days, and then we will see if we can get him started.''

If Blake needs only a short rehab, he theoretically could be on track to return to the active roster around the same time as shortstop Rafael Furcal, who began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday night at Tucson. Furcal went 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs in his first game with the Isotopes, although the switch hitter is still feeling enough discomfort in his right thumb that he is hitting only left-handed in games, Isotopes manager Lorenzo Bundy confirmed via text message.

Furcal has been taking right-handed batting practice.

He would probably continue to hit only left-handed on Sunday night with a right-hander, Padres prospect Matt Buschmann, scheduled to make his Triple-A debut. But Bundy also said his club is scheduled to face a lefty on Monday night, and Mattingly said there is some hope that Furcal will feel comfortable enough to try hitting right-handed by then.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.