GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake returned to the field Tuesday for the first time since injuring his back March 12.
Blake played catch, took ground balls and hit off a tee, resuming activity after two light days to let an injection and anti-inflammatory medication kick in.
The Dodgers still don't expect Blake to be ready for Opening Day, because he will have missed so many innings and at-bats.
Blake, 37, is in the final guaranteed year of a three-year deal with an option for 2012.
Fellow infielder Jamey Carroll played catch for the first time in a week (with Blake) but still isn't playing in games because of the sprained right index finger that bothers him while throwing. He is able to hit and was scheduled to bat in a Minor League game, along with teammates Tony Gwynn and Marcus Thames.
Velez suffers severe right ankle sprain
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers non-roster infielder Eugenio Velez sustained a grade 2 right ankle sprain in Tuesday's 2-1 win over the Cubs.
A grade 2 sprain indicates partial tearing of the ligament, and he is likely to be out weeks rather than days. Velez said he has never had an ankle sprain.
"It's as good as it can be," said manager Don Mattingly. "It looked bad. I thought he may have broken that thing."
Velez turned the ankle badly when he stepped on the side of the first-base bag trying to veer away from a collision with former Dodger Blake DeWitt while running full speed at the end of a bunt play in the seventh inning.
2010 Spring Training - Los Angeles Dodgers
News & Features
- Dodgers sign seven Minor League free agents
- Dodgers to play exhibition at Rancho Cucamonga
- Dodgers release 34-game spring schedule
- Dodgers Notebook: April 3, 2012
- Harang and Treanor team up to halt Angels
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
X-rays revealed no broken bones, and Velez left the clubhouse on crutches.
Velez had to be carted off the field after the play, in which he was credited with a bunt single when Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena attempted to grab the bunt and toss it back to DeWitt covering.
Pena actually dropped the ball before he could throw, but Velez didn't realize it and was trying to beat the throw. He said he saw DeWitt on the bag and aimed for the right side, but slid off the edge of the bag.
"If I knew he dropped the ball, this wouldn't have happened," Velez said. "I'm glad it isn't broken. I thought it was, thank God it wasn't."
Velez was trying to make a long-shot run at a utility job.
Left field roster spot under close scrutiny
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With roster decisions upcoming, the Dodgers had some semi-familiar names in some unfamiliar spots during Tuesday's 2-1, 10-inning win over the Cubs.
Hector Gimenez, the 10-year Minor League catcher making a surprising run at a utility role, showed up in left field for the first time this spring and first time for him in two years. Only two singles were hit his way, but on one of them, he fired a line drive to the plate and nailed Tyler Colvin trying to score from second base.
Meanwhile, Jay Gibbons started at first base to show if he had more defensive versatility than just left field, where a crowd is forming. Gibbons, plagued by eye problems most of the spring, is hitting only .114.
Whether any of this means that Gibbons is in danger of losing a roster spot to Gimenez is open for debate, but when manager Don Mattingly said Marcus Thames is his right-handed platoon in left field, he didn't say that Gibbons is his left-handed platoon, which was the assumption since he re-signed.
It also could be Tony Gwynn, who plays better defense than either of them. It also could be Xavier Paul, who is out of options and is better defensively than Thames or Gibbons, but not necessarily Gwynn. Trent Oeltjen is hitting .400 with fewer at-bats than any of them. Gimenez is a switch-hitter who has looked very capable with the bat until Tuesday, when he struck out in all three at-bats.
"We're going to keep looking," said Mattingly. "We've got guys fighting for jobs, and they're going to tell us. The decision is not made yet. I don't know who the left fielder will be if there's a right-hander pitching."
Carroll won't be deterred by injured finger
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers infielder Jamey Carroll resumed throwing Tuesday with a bruised finger that he said won't keep him from starting the season on time.
"I wouldn't think so, or I wouldn't have taken the time off," said Carroll, who injured the finger on a bunt two weeks ago and stopped throwing almost a week ago when soreness persisted. "There was no soreness today, and I was looking for it."
Carroll has been doing everything but throwing. He's been taking ground balls, batting practice and playing as a designated hitter in Minor League games.
"I've been doing extra work to pound my body and simulate being on the field," he said. I had a good build-up going in. I've been getting five at-bats a day. I feel fine in that regard."
Padilla works for second straight day
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla returned to the mound for a second consecutive day on Tuesday, making 15 pitches at his highest velocity yet, before throwing breaking balls on flat ground.
Padilla, who underwent surgery to free an entrapped radial nerve in his right forearm on Feb. 24, came away from the workout with a smile.
The Dodgers have not given a timetable for Padilla's return -- because the surgery is rare for a pitcher -- but the only one known to have had it is former Milwaukee pitcher Jeff D'Amico, who was out for two months.
Padilla, however, is being asked to return as a reliever, so his rehab should be shorter because he won't need to build up the arm strength of a starter.
Dodgers reassign Villarreal to Minors camp
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers trimmed their roster by one on Tuesday, reassigning non-roster right-hander Oscar Villarreal to Minor League camp.
Villarreal had a spotty spring, with a 10.80 ERA in 6 2/3 innings over six appearances, with two home runs allowed, but he did have seven strikeouts and two saves.
The Dodgers now have 41 players in camp.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.